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Thursday, December 7, 2023

NPFL: Nwagua strike secures Rivers United a 1-0 win over Rangers International; Ezekiel Bassey scores in Akwa United’s 3-2 home win over city rivals Dakkada FC

From Pan-Africa Football contributor Emmanuel Chinedu in Enugu

Rivers United returned to winning ways as Nyima Nwagua’s 62nd minute strike secured a hard-fought 1-0 win over Rangers International in action from the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Sunday at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium in Port Harcourt.

The pride of Rivers, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Abia Warriors in mid-week, came into the game on the back of a poor display in Okigwe.

But it was the visitors, Rangers International, who attempted a quick counter attack soon after the three minute mark when Rivers lost possession inside the Rangers backline, but Samuel Pam’s shot from 25 yards flew just high and wide.

Rivers United continued to have plenty of possession but were unable to make a breakthrough as the riddle of Rangers’ defensive line could not be solved. There were plenty of good goal opportunities for Rivers, who failed to beat goalkeeper Seidu Mutawakilu through shots from Nyima Nwagua and Ishaq Kayode in the 29th and 32nd minutes.

Rivers United, in the 45 minute nearly went in front, after a Ishaq Kayode’s late effort was punched away by Mutawakilu, as both sides went into the half time break without a breakthrough after 45 minutes.

The hosts came back in the second half and continued to dominate the game with Chijioke Akuneto’s long range effort from the edge of the box going just wide of the left bottom corner.

But the breakthrough in the game came for the hosts in the 61st minute when Nyima Nwagua tapped home from close range after Morice Chukwu’s free kick hit the woodwork, putting the home side 1-0 ahead.

Rangers International came so close in the 71 minute with their first effort on target in the game when Elijah Ani latched onto a ball over the top, but Rivers United goalkeeper Sochima Victor made a routine save to deny the visitors an equalizer. Rivers United held on to secure a vital 1-0 win over Abdul Maikaba’s Rangers International side, giving the Flying Antelopes their first away defeat of the season.

It was an all round performance from the Stanley Eguma side as they move to the top of the log on 29 points from 14 games, two points clear of second placed Plateau United, who will be in action against Gombe United in Gombe on Wednesday.

Rangers International still remain in third on the log with 23 points following the defeat.

But Abdul Maikaba will be hoping for his Rangers side to bounce back from their defeat in Port Harcourt when they play host to Kano Pillars in the Matchday 15 fixtures next weekend at their adopted home ground, the FC Ifeanyi Ubah stadium, in Nnewi next Sunday.

Akwa United secured back-to-back wins for the first time this season after they defeated city rivals Dakkada FC 3-2 in an all-Akwa derby at the nest of champions in Uyo.

The visitors took the lead early in the game when Femi Ajayi scored from close range courtesy of an assist by Solomon Kantoma.

But the hosts, who secured their first away win of the season in mid-week, equalized courtesy of Samuel Amadi’s penalty to make it 1-1 for Akwa United in the 30th minute after he was brought down inside the box.

However, the Promise Keepers took control of the game by restoring their lead to 2-1 from a Wisdom Fernando goal, who smashed brilliantly into the top corner from a perfect delivery by Ubong Essien. Substitute Ezekiel Bassey made it 3-1 for the defending champions following a swift solo move.

However, the visitors pulled a goal back in the 79th minute through Rivio Ayemwenre, who skipped past multiple Akwa United defenders before drilling past goalkeeper Adeyinka Adewale to reduce the deficit to 3-2 for Dakkada FC.

The victory moves Akwa United up to 5th position on the log with 23 points from 14 games while Dakkada FC still remain in the drop zone, sitting in the 18th position on 12 points.

In other matches played today, Sunshine Stars made a return to winning ways as they defeated Abdullahi Biffo’s Kwara United side 1-0 in Akure.

Abdul Taofeek’s 2nd minutes strike was all enough for the Akure gunners to secure a vital home win. Meanwhile, Wikki Tourists held Rasheed Balogun’s Shooting Stars side to a goalless draw in Ibadan.

NPFL Matchday 14 Results

Enyimba 1-1 MFM FC
Rivers United 1-0 Rangers International
Sunshine Stars 1-0 Kwara United
Shooting Stars 0-0 Wikki Tourists
Akwa United 3-2 Dakkada FC

On Monday, February 21, 2022

Katsina United vs Heartland FC
Lobi Stars vs Remo Stars
Kano Pillars vs Abia Warriors
Nasarawa United vs Niger Tornadoes

Highlights are below from Akwa United’s victory over Dakkada FC as well as the draw between Enyimba and MFM FC

Rivers United 1-0 Enugu Rangers

Akwa United 3-2 Dakkada FC

Enyimba 1-1 MFM FC