Dhangadhi thump Chitwan to climb on topKiran Limbu-led side register a 3-0 victory to open a two-point lead in the standings after Butwal Lumbini and Biratnagar City played 2-2 draw in the Nepal Super League.
Dhangadhi FC thumped FC Chitwan 3-0 and moved two points clear atop the standings after Butwal Lumbini FC and Biratnagar City FC shared the spoils with a 2-2 draw in the Nepal Super League football tournament at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwor on Saturday.
In the day's early match, the national skipper Kiran Limbu-led Dhangadhi netted all three goals after the interval despite facing consistent pressure in the first half. Nishan Limbu, Oladipo Olawale Afeez and Buddha Bal Tamang were on targets for Dhangadhi.
The other fixture of the day saw Biratnagar come from behind twice including a stoppage time goal from Nepali international Santosh Tamang to salvage a draw against Butwal Lumbini.
The outcomes put Butwal Lumbini in second place with five points, two behind Dhangadhi, who replaced them on top. However, Butwal Lumbini have a match advantage over Dhangadhi who have played four matches. Chitwan dropped to the bottom of the table with two points and are level with Lalitpur FC in sixth place. Biratnagar are joint third along with Pokhara Thunders and Kathmandu Rayzrs on four points. They, however, occupy third place by the virtue of goals difference superiority.
Chitwan looked a far better and organised side in the first half and created frequent chances but failed in the finishing department. They exchanged short and swift passes and hit the woodwork twice before the interval.
"It was our best performance of the tournament and we should have scored in the first half. We lost despite playing good football," Chitwan coach Meghraj KC said. "The opponents got on the scoresheet on their first two moves."
KC also pointed out that his French forward Goran Jerkovic failed to deliver as expected. "He should have performed at a much higher level, but he failed to live up to the expectations."
Chitwan came closer to scoring in the 23rd minute when George Prince Karki, unsold in the auction, fired a low strike from the area in Sishir Lekhi's right flank cross only for custodian Kiran Limbu to block it with a prompt reaction. French forward Goran Jerkovic collected a rebound from goalie and applied a quick semi-volley from the crowded box but the ball hit the bar.
In the 32nd, forward Karki's tight angle strike at the far post from the area in his solo effort after toying two defenders missed the target by a whisker. He again ended up smashing the bar four minutes later with a 30-yard scorcher.
Dhangadhi forward Nishan Limbu broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 63rd with a powerful tapping from the six-yard box after he met an acute cross from defender Nishan Khadka. Nigerian forward Oladipo Olawale Afeez doubled the advantage with his fourth goal of the tournament in the 69th as he made a free header with a sprint to convert Nishan Limbu's right flank cross.
In the 76th, Dhangadhi midfielder Pujan Uperkoti's left flank free kick hit the bar and French forward Goran Jerkovic's 79th minute goal was ruled offside.
Dhangadhi sealed the victory in the 80th after Buddha Bal Tamang controlled Afeez's strike on goal at the close range on Tanka Basnet cross and quickly fired past goalie Bishal Sunar.
Dhangadhi's Limbu was named super player of the match and teammate Buddha Bal Tamang won the emerging player award.
Dhangadhi's assistant coach Fuja Tope said that his side took advantage of the opponents’ lapses. "Chitwan are a very good side and we approached with caution. Our plan was to hold and see the opponents' game in the first half and attack accordingly in the other half," Tope said, adding that all the teams were of similar level and the outcome would largely depend upon the tactics of the coach.
In the day’s another match, Omolaja Nurain Kareem and Laxman Ruchal were on targets for Butwal Lumbini while Pedro Cruz and Santosh Tamang hit back for Biratnagar.
Biratnagar custodian Kishor Giri punched winger Amir Shrestha's fifth minute free kick to safety just from below the crossbar. But Lumbini broke the deadlock in the resulting corner as Nigerian defender Omolaja Nurain Kareem quickly smashed from the crowded zone after teammate Armand Beadoum's header deflected at Biratnagar defender Ulrich Siwe.
Spanish forward Cruz equalised three minutes before the interval as he unleashed a powerful scorcher from the outer edge of the area sending the ball beyond the reach of a diving goalie Bishal Shrestha. Nogerian forward Adelaja Oluwawunmi S set the momentum for Cruz after he chest-controlled a long pass from Suraj Thakuri and crossed it perfectly for the Spanish forward.
Butwal Lumbini midfielder Laxman Ruchal volleyed in the 68th minute to restore the lead with his second goal of the campaign. But Biratnagar midfielder Tamang ensured that they walked away with one point with a late goal in the third minute of the seven minute stoppage time when his freekick found the net after bouncing in the crowded area.
Butwal Lumbini forward Suman Lama was named emerging player while Pedro Cruz of Biratnagar won the super player award. The emerging player received Rs10,000 and the super player Rs25,000.
Pokhara Thunders will vie against Lalitpur City FC in the only match on Sunday.
Team P W D L GF GA Pts
Dhangadhi. 4 2 1 1 7 4 7
Butwal Lumbini 3 1 2 0 6 4 5
Biratnagar. 3 1 1 1 5 3 4
Pokhara 3 1 1 1 1 2 4
Kathmandu 3 1 1 1 1 3 4
Lalitpur 3 0 2 1 2 3 2
Chitwan. 3 0 2 1 3 6 2