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NPFL 2018/19: Opening Matchday sees twist in expectations

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Michael Babatunde
The Matchday 1 of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) 2018/19 came with surprises as the expectation of the usual home win didn’t pull through, uniquesports reports.

The result has got many talking of the expectation of a shocker in the league this season as favourite teams to win the league prior to their signings suffered setbacks

Enyimba, seven-time champions put up a wonderful display with an easy 2-0 victory over Mountain of F ire at the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba on Sunday.

The people’s elephant had the biggest win of Matchday 1with goals from Nelson Ogbonnaya in the 13th minute and Abdulrahman Bashir in the 54th minute.

Chukwuka Onuwa and Stanley Okorom had nothing to show for joining MFM FC.

El-Kanemi were good travelers in their opening game as they defeated Akwa United by a lone goal at the Nest of Champions in Uyo.

Akwa’s hired Brazilian trainer Rafael Everton along his countryman and midfelder Alberico da Silva could not do enough in their opening match.

Big names such as Juwon Oshaniwa, Mfon Udoh, Ndifreke Effiong, Emeka Atuloma and Ocheme Edoh in the lineup for Akwa couldn’t strike fear into their opponent from the southeast.

BabaGanaru’s boys were holding on till the fourth minute of added time when Ba’akaka Ajikolo who came on for Ali Aliyu, barely nine minutes on the pitch found the back of the net from Akwa goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo’s hilarious action.

Kwara United and Sunshine Stars shared spoils in Ilorin in an entertaining 1-1 draw.

The Ilorin team had no goal standing but lucky of Seun Olulayo’s own goal.

Kwara had their first goal denied, a penalty saved in the 15th minute when Sunshine’s goalkeeper David Ariyo kept out Segun Alebiosu’s spot kick.

Franklin Sasere gave the Akure side the lead in the 41st minute after Olulayo’s long ball unsettled the Harmony Boys’ backline. Sasere, under pressure from a United defender saw Yusuf Mohammed off his line before lobbing his effort into the back of the net.

The host while seeking an equalizer saw Owello and Usman combined to deliver a cross for Alebiosu whose header into the net was ruled offside.

The Ilorin side continued to torment Sunshine’s defence and could have leveled things on the hour mark when Alebiosu’s effort cannoned off the post from a tight angle.

Kwara United eventually equalized when Sunshines’s Olulayo in the 71st minute diverted Usman Mohammed’s cross into his own net with less than 20 minutes to time.

Ifeanyi Ubah survived the scares of the intimidating Plateau United with a 0-0 scoreline in

Despite Plateau’s pressure with a bench looking stronger that their opponents XI, Ifeanyi Ubah were solid in their defence and rarely launched an attack, they parked the bus.

Ifeanyi Ubah were however wasteful as the limited chances they could have converted were fluffed.

Abia Warriors were not lucky on their journey to Lafia as they lost 0-1 to Nasarawa United.

The southeastern team has never lost an opening match since they joined the NPFL IN 2014.

Abdullahi Abubakar’s strike in the 20th minute was enough for Nasarawa United who have endured struggling starts in recent seasons.

Ebele Obi’s aided Pillars 1-0 victory over Heartland in Kano. Chinedu capitalized on Obi’s poor goalkeeping to fire in from close range in the 16th minute.

Pillars could only do with the early one goal lead to scale through the pressures of Heartland in the absence of their goal poacher, Junior Lokosa.

Heartland’s Chidiebere Ajoku got a goal in the second half but the referee came to the rescue of Kabiru Baleria’s boys to declare the goal offside.

NPFL continues as matchday two fixtures hold this midweek.

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Barcelona

I’m really grateful to our fans, Messi speaks after netting hat-trick

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Barcelona talisman, Lionel Messi, was given a standing ovation by Real Betis supporters, after scoring his 33rd La Liga hat trick in their 4-1 win at the Benito Villamarin on Sunday.

Messi opened the scoring with a free kick and added the second before the break after a brilliant Luis Suarez assist.

He completed his treble late on with an exquisite chip, after Suarez and Loren Moron had exchanged goals.

The third Messi strike, which killed off any late hopes of a Betis comeback, drew an ovation from the home supporters which the Argentine international says he has never previously experienced.

“I don’t ever remember a night like this [being applauded by rival supporters].

“I’m really grateful for the way the fans responded. I honestly don’t remember an ovation like that [from rival fans],” Messi told Movistar.

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Sadio Mane top highest goal scorer in Premier League

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Following the conclusion of match-day 31 of the English Premier League, EPL, on Sunday, below are the current highest goal scorers chasing the Golden Boot in the English top-flight league.

Liverpool forward, Sadio Mane scored in his side’s 2-1 win over Fulham on Sunday to take his tally to 17 goals so far this season.

Everton stars, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison scored in their side’s 2-0 victory over Chelsea on Sunday to take their tallies to 12 goals each.

See top 20 of Premier League highest goal scorers so far below:

18 gaols: Sergio Agüero (Manchester City).

17 goals: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Harry Kane (Tottenaham), Sadio Mane (Liverpool).

15 goals: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

13 goals: Eden Hazard (Chelsea).

12 goals: Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal), Raúl Jiménez (Wolves), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton), Richarlison (Everton), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United).

11 goals: Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth), Son Heung-Min (Tottenham), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Joshua King (Bournemouth), Glenn Murray (Brighton).

10 goals: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham).

Meanwhile, the match-day 32 of the English Premier League will resume coming weekend.

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Dogo explains as Sunshine Stars FC held to goalless draw in Akure by Enyimba

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Sunshine Star Football Club of Akure have played a goalless draw with Enyimba International Football Club of Aba in the match 11 of the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL, at the Akure Township Stadium.

The week 11 fixture saw the Enyimba team doing most of the defensive playing, while the Akure-based team, Sunshine Stars FC’s strikers could not prove their potency within the box 18 of the Aba team after series of chances.

Reacting after the match which saw his team drop two points at home, the Sunshine Stars FC coach, Kabiru Dogo, who described the performance of his boys as not too good, disclosed that it was due to logistic problems within the club.

“As a coach, I’m not happy for the outcome of the match, as you can see my team played one of their best games today but we could not get the goals in the area of attacking, because football is all about goals, I could not say we did well, we didn’t do well, but there is room for improvement.

“We had opportunities to bring in new strikers into the team but due to some problems and logistics within the club, we had to manage what we have,” the Sunshine coach stated.

On his own part, the Head Coach of Enyimba International FC, Usman Abd’allah, who lauded his team’s spirit at getting the deserving one point away from home, maintained that it will help in boosting the mental stability of his boys in subsequent fixtures.

“A draw is a good one for us, even though we came here for the three points because the last two away matches because we were able to grab two point each from that match. But we thought we are going to get our first three away points but we had one point, it’s okay.

“At this moment, we are one step ahead because we are now picking up because the away points we have been getting is helping in replacing those we have lost. It’s a recovery of what we lost against Lobi Stars.

“I like the result and the fighting spirit of my boys,” Usman stated.

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