By George Akpayen

The Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) reached its halfway point with Bendel Insurance turning on the style to see off new boys Sporting Lagos 3-1 at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium on Saturday.

The Benin Arsenal were dominant from start to finish in the contest as they raced into a three-goal lead in the first 60 minutes – the first time that Sporting Lagos would concede three in the topflight since their promotion last season.

Junior Osaghae continued his fine form at home for Insurance opening score on 33 minutes and five minutes later he turned provider for Chukwudi Meze to head past Sporting Lagos goalkeeper Nathaniel Asibe, who had previously played for Bendel Insurance before now.

On 60 minutes, Divine Nwachukwu added the third in superb fashion after cutting inside of his marker and arrowing his attempt into the top corner with Chisom Okereke having done well to set him up.

Sporting Lagos looked jaded and far from the side that took the top division by surprise in their opening fixtures.

However, with Insurance taking the foot off the pedal with a three-goal lead, Sporting Lagos found a way to reduce the deficit in added time when Henry Ndidi scored an absolutely fantastic goal which proved insufficient at the end of the contest.

Third-placed Doma United had to throw everything at experienced campaigners Rivers United to grind out a 1-1 draw at the Pantami Stadium after going down to Yao Bernard Kouassi’s strike on the stroke of half-time.

It would have been worse for the Savannah Tigers as Rivers United had Alex Oyowah’s goal ruled out as the assistant referee flagged that the ball had gone out of play.

Doma United played their way back into the contest in added time when Nelson Abiam scored an audacious overhead kick from outside the Rivers United box with Ghanaian goalkeeper Seidu Mutawakilu rooted to the spot thinking the ball would sail over his post.

The Savannah Tigers stay in third place despite the draw but will be looking over their shoulders by the time Sunday matches get underway with defending champions Enyimba, Plateau United and Kano Pillars capable of dislodging them off the top-three position.

At the Kwara State Stadium in Ilorin, Kwara United held on to an early lead to defeat Sunshine Stars 1-0. Emmanuel Ogbole’s goal on 15 minutes decided affairs in the North Central town.

Matchweek 19 of the NPFL will continue on Sunday with seven matches.

David NPFL
January 21, 2024
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