NRT reach summit; Friends beat RCT

KATHMANDU: New Road Team (NRT) climbed atop the Martyrs Memorial San Miguel A Division League table with a 2-1 win over Sankata Kathmandu Mall Club while NIBL Friends Club defeated Ranipokhari Corner Team (RCT) 3-2 to surge into fourth place at the Dasharath Stadium today.

After the completion of the 10th round, NRT accumulated 23 points and pushed the defending champions Nepal Police Club (22) to second spot. Friends leapfrogged Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) and Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) for fourth place with 18 points. MMC have 17 points, two more than TAC, while Sankata, after their eighth loss, have just six points.

Danish national Sayan Mosavi played a key role to guide NRT into the first spot scoring a goal and setting up the other. NRT coach Diken Suwal gave full credit to Mosavi for taking his team to the top though he was still not satisfied with his team’s performance. “Our midfielders have been disappointing right through the start of the league but we owe a lot to Mosavi. He has made up for the loss of striker Anil Gurung,” said the coach. Gurung left the club to join i-league outfit Shillong Lajong.

Mosavi scored his seventh goal of the league to give NRT the 27th minute lead — a solo effort finish after taking the ball from the midfield. Mosavi then earned a penalty in the 59th minute when Salyan Khadgi tripped the forward inside the danger zone and Subhash Rai converted it.

Mosavi could have scored his second in the dying moments but the forward muffed up the chance in one-on-one encounter with Sankata goalie Suman Legal. He ended up with a weak shot only for Ravi Thapa to clear from the goalline.

Sankata had a fair number of chances but failed to capitalise on them. It was NRT custodian Surendra Shrestha who helped Sankata reduce the deficit in the 83rd minute, spilling a powerful 40-yard shot from Bangladeshi midfielder Md Assif Hussain. Surendra had earlier punched away a sensational Sujal Shrestha freekick in the 37th minute, the ball rebounding off the bar to unmarked Salyan. Salyan, however, headed high from almost the goalline. In the 23rd minute, Sumin Mainali’s stike hit the unattended NRT woodwork.

Earlier, Friends scored three first-half goals which was enough to ensure their sixth victory in the league. Pukar Gahatraj gave Friends the seventh-minute lead cashing in on a long cross from Bharat Khawas and Buddha Chemjong struck the second in the 33rd minute on a rebound after RCT goalkeeper Dilip Chhetri blocked a Ukesh Shrestha shot. Bharat Khawas struck in the 44th minute heading home a cross from Azad Pradhan to make it 3-0.

RCT, however, bounced back with two second-half goals but by then it was too late. Sagun Shrestha beat the offside trap to score following a pass from Deepak Rai in the 57th minute before Deepak struck a powerful shot from the area in the 84th. Their search for the equaliser in the remaining six minutes did not materialise.