Sahukhala runs riot over hapless Friends Club

KATHMANDU: Santosh Sahukhala ran riot as Nabil Three Star Club hammered NIB Friends Club 4-0 while an Umesh Upretti stunner helped New Road Team (NRT) to a 1-0 win over Tribhuvan Army Club in the Martyrs Memorial San Miguel A Division League here today.

The results meant Three Star climbed up to fourth from seventh position with 14 points from eight matches. Friends dropped one spot down to fifth with 12. Likewise, NRT moved up one place up to second with 17, one behind leaders Nepal Police Club. TAC dropped one place down to sixth with 11 points on better goal difference than Machhindra FC.

In the match between the Lalitpur teams, Three Star took the lead thanks to a blunder from Friends skipper Nur Raj Kafle in the 21st minute. Instead of clearing a Joclyn Morgan cross, the Friends defender chest controlled the ball letting Sahukhala unleash a powerful strike past the clueless goalkeeper Rupak Shrestha.

Friends coach Mrigendra Mishra said that his defenders gifted all four goals to Three Star. “It’s not that Three Star earned those goals with their effort but rather our defensive mistakes allowed them to score freely,” said Mishra.

Another defensive mistake allowed Sahukhala take a timely run on a through pass from Anil Ojha to double the lead in the 35th minute. Friends defenders did not even bother to chase the ball believing Sahukhala was offside. Three Star were unlucky not to have extended the lead when, in the 51st minute, skipper Pradeep Maharjan met a sublime corner kick from Castory Mumbara but his header rebounded of the woodwork.

Sahukhala completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot, awarded after Deepak Bhusal blocked Sahukhala’s header with his hand in the goalline. Bhusal was sent off for the offense. The forward struck his fourth in the first minute of the added-on time, converting a pass from Saroj Dahal, to complete the rout.

Three Star coach Bal Gopal Maharjan believed that his team is improving every other day. “Our boys are showing their true colours,” said Maharjan. “We haven’t found rhythm yet but hopefully we will be even better side in the next match,” said the coach.

In the other match, TAC was left ruing two missed opportunities when Umesh struck a stunner in the 74th minute. His 20-yard powerful freekick curled into the roof of the net leaving goalkeeper Bikash Malla hardly any time to react.

Earlier, Ram Kumar Biswas squandered a chance heading off target from close following a corner from Shiva Chaudhary. NRT made a great escape twice in the 65th minute when Bikarna Shrestha struck at the far post only for the NRT custodian Surendra Shrestha acrobatic punching away the ball. However, the ball fell nicely to Shiva Chaudhary and his shot on goal was cleared by Biraj from the goalline with Surendra still to recover from the fall.

“We lost very important points ,” said TAC coach Raju Kaji Shakya. “We had quite a few chances but could not capitalised on them,” added Shakya. NRT coach Diken Suwal was happy to have claimed the three points. “I am disappointed with our game today,” said Suwal.