Gharti Magar double gives Machhindra four-point lead in ‘A’ Division LeagueThe forward scores twice inside seven minutes as the defending champions thump strugglers Brigade Boys 4-0.
Two goals in quick succession by striker Bimal Gharti Magar gave champions Machhindra Club a convincing 4-0 win over relegation-threatened Brigade Boys Club as they opened a four-point lead atop the Martyrs Memorial 'A' Division League at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwar on Sunday.
The one-sided affair saw Machhindra score all four goals after the interval as Gharti Magar netted the first two goals inside seven minutes before Rejin Subba and Abhishek Rijal hit the targets later to seal a comprehensive victory.
Machhindra, one of the two unbeaten teams in the league along with Tribhuvan Army FC, have 23 points from nine matches and maintain clean sheets in the last seven games. Manang Marshyangdi Club are second with 19 points. Brigade, who came into the game looking for a second victory, are one point short of relegation zone with six points.
Despite the comfortable lead and only four matches left before the league wraps up, Machhindra coach Prabesh Katuwal was adamant that they were within touching distance of the title. "We are yet to play four matches and all the remaining opponents — Satdobato, APF, Three Star and Chyasal — are tough," said Katuwal. "Making judgments on the basis of the points table, we seem to be in a bit comfortable position."
Recalling the last edition's run when Machhindra went into the last match of the campaign against Tribhuvan Army FC needing a must win for the trophy, Katuwal said, "The last match was like the final in the last league. We do not wish to repeat a similar situation. If we could win our next two fixtures, we could be assured of the championship with two matches in hand. Our target is to maintain our unbeaten streak so we need to give cent percent in remaining matches."
The star-studded Machhindra piled consistence pressure but they failed to break the deadlock before the half time. Machhindra came closer to scoring in the mid first half when captain Sujal Shrestha pounced Ranjit Dhimal's corner from crowded zone before Indian goalie Gurpreet Singh blocked the ball. Machhindra's Azerbaijani forward Norlan Novruzov headed wide in Ranjit Dhimal's corner. Two minutes before the interval, goalie Singh made a long-stretch dive to punch away Nepali international winger Sunil Bal's 30-yard scorcher.
Machhindra's pressure was rewarded in the 56th as Gharti Magar headed just ahead from the goalline in a back volley of Rejin Subba, who played his first game of the season as substitute following ankle treatment in Qatar. Defender Tshering Gurung, however, was to be credited for the goal as he created the momentum with a tight angle cross in a fifty-fifty challenge with goalie Singh before Subba found the ball.
Gharti Magar, also returning to action after a year layoff following ligament surgery and included in the starting line for the first time, doubled the advantage in the seven minutes later. He got an easy scoring opportunity as Cameroonian defender Bertrand Ottou stumbled chasing a long pass by Devendra Tamang and the forward easily beat custodian Sing with a low strike from the area.
Subba, the replacement of Novruzov in the first half stoppage time, made it 3-0 as he made a close range tapping to turn in Gharti Magar's acute pass. Rijal sealed the comprehensive victory with a stoppage time goal beating an offside trap as he was laid a perfect pass by captain Shrestha.
Brigade coach Sanoj Shrestha said that his side lost the match due to “overconfidence of players.”
“Our strategy was to stop the opponents from scoring and were successful in the first half. But the goalie was at fault for the first goal as he left the ball misjudging it would be out. In the second goal, the last defender (Ottou) could have easily cleared, but he delayed and stumbled paving way to score," lamented Shrestha adding that the first goal became a turning point for the outcome.