By George Akpayen
Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) champions Enyimba have forced their way into the title race midway into the season following their 2-1 win at 3SC on Sunday.
The People’s Elephant began the match on Sunday in sixth place and could only jump into the top-three if they won at the Lekan Salami Stadium in Ibadan, home of 3SC while depending on the outcome of matches involving other clubs hovering around the top-three.
After a goalless first half, Enyimba got in front through Chijioke Mbaoma’s goal from the spot on 56 minutes and they held on to their lead until 83 minutes when in-form Kareem Ademola levelled the score for 3SC.
In added time after 90 minutes, Chibueze Izuogu scored the winner for the defending champions who now have the most wins on the road this season. Enyimba have also won at Heartland and Bayelsa United this term.
The win ensures Enyimba move into third place with 32 points dislodging Doma United who are now in fourth position.
Lobi Stars finished the first round of the season on top of the pile after edging past Plateau United 1-0 at the Lafia City Stadium.
Suur Kumaga’s goal after 23 minutes proved sufficient to earn Lobi the full points and keep them in top spot ahead of second-placed Remo Stars who also won 2-1 against Abia Warriors.
Dela Akorli and Ahmed Akinyele scored for Remo Stars on nine and 63 minutes respectively before Sunday Megwo got a goal for Abia Warriors with 20 minutes to time.
Ubong Friday scored a late spot kick to help Akwa United seal a 1-0 win over Rangers at the Eket Stadium while Niger Tornadoes and Katsina United played out a goalless draw. Katsina United goalkeeper Pius Ibrahim saved Mohammed Hussaini’s spot kick on 42 minutes which played a major part in the game failing to produce a goal.
Kano Pillars despite finishing the final moments of their match against Heartland under closed door with a man down, won 2-1.
Suleman Idris and Rabiu Ali scored on 49 and 85 minutes respectively and in between the Kano club had Abdullahi Haruna sent off for a second booking.
Heartland managed to score at the death through Clement Ogbobe’s finely struck free kick.
Sunday’s early kick-off at the Pantami Stadium witnessed a share of points between Gombe United and Bayelsa United in a 1-1 draw. Bayelsa United took the lead through an own goal by Victor Aworji before Abba Umar equalized 24 minutes later. Both clubs are in the bottom-four of the standings.
A day earlier, Bendel Insurance helped themselves to a 3-1 win over Sporting Lagos. Junior Osaghae, Chukwudi Meze and Divine Nwachukwu scored for Insurance while Henry Ndidi netted for Sporting Lagos.
Nelson Abiam’s eye-catching overhead kick helped Doma United earn a point in a draw at home against Rivers United. Yao Bernard Kouassi scored for Rivers United.
Kwara United ran out 1-0 winners over Sunshine Stars through Emmanuel Ogbole’s early strike.