Machhindra pip APF, move atop

Kathmandu, February 1

Ranjit Dhimal scored the winner as San Miguel Machhindra Football Club came from a goal down to beat Nepal APF Mahindra Club and moved to the top of the Qatar Airways Martyrs Memorial A Division League here today.

In an early kick off at the Dasharath Stadium, Sanjog Rai netted the first hat-trick of the league in Ruslan Three Star Club’s 4-0 victory over Saraswoti Youth Club.

With their seventh win in 10 matches, Machhindra opened up two-point lead over Tribhuvan Army Club but the departmental outfits have one game on hand.

Defending champions NOC Manang Marshyangdi Club are at the third place with 19 points from nine matches, while Three Star moved one place up to fourth with 17 points. The defeats meant Saraswoti remained at the bottom with four points, while APF are at the 13th place in 14-team table with five points.

In the day’s second match, APF took lead in the 43rd minute after Ramesh Dangal’s header hit the inside edge of the cross bar before entering the goal following a pass from Nabin Lama. Machhindra levelled the scores three minutes into the second half when Bishal Rai headed home Ranjit Dhimal’s corner.

Machhindra earned a penalty in the 79th minute after APF defender Top Bahadur Bista was adjudged to have brought down Peter Segun inside the box. APF goalkeeper Raju Yogi blocked Ranjit Dhimal’s spot kick with a brilliant dive to his left but the defender managed to bury the ball into the nets in rebound. Machhindra’s Devendra Tamang was named the Kelme man of the match.

In another match, Three Star missed a host of chances in the first half before scoring all four in the latter half to record comprehensive victory over Saraswoti.

Foreign recruits Wasiu Hazmat and Ailioladiran Erinsoso were the chief culprits as they muffed up as many as six opportunities.

Three Star managed to break the deadlock only after coach Megh Raj KC substituted both the players — Susaan Shrestha in place of Hazmat in the 32nd minute and Mikchhen Tamang in place of Erinsoso in the 46th minute.

Three Star took the lead in the 48th minute, thanks to a wonderful goal from Indian recruit Lal Rammavra, who slammed home from tight angle after collecting a miss-pass from Barshat Gurung. Sanjog Rai then stole the limelight completing his hat-trick in the space of 14 minutes that also earned him the Kelme man-ofthe-match award.

Rai doubled Three Star’s tally in the 57th minute with a lovely touch following a headed pass from Sushan Shrestha, while he got his second three minutes later after he fired into the top left corner of the goal with a left-footed strike on a back pass from Sushil Rai.

Sanjog Rai completed his hat-trick in the 71st minute when he at a time when Saraswoti goalkeeper Pradeep Bhandari had come out of his den after Ashok Khawas released a long pass into box.