2016 NPFL Super 4: Egbuchulam’s brace lift Rangers past Rivers United

Aliassou Sanou of Rivers United challenges Chisom Egbuchulam of Rangers
By
Sam Nnaji
Chisom
Egbuchulam’s sumptuous second half strikes handed Rangers a 2-0 win over Rivers
United in the second game of the NPFL Super4 tournament in Enugu on Wednesday.
The
striker, fresh from winning Nigerian Sports Awards Player of the Year, put the
Flying Antelopes ahead in the 64th minute before getting his brace ten minutes
afterward. Markson Ojobo missed a penalty before substitute Chiamaka Madu would
see a late effort crash off the woodwork.
The
last time both sides met, it served up one of the most one-sided fixtures of
Rangers’ title-winning season. But anyone expecting another 4-0 bashing quickly
diminished such thoughts as Rivers United bossed the opening minutes with
Bernard Ovoke and Guy Kuemian keeping the new-look centre-back pairing of
captain for the evening, Chibuzor Madu and Senegalese Ousmane Pape Sane on
their toes.
In
midfield, Rangers who were missing the craft of former Nigerian Under-20 star
Obinna Nwobodo did struggle to keep possession early in the game and early
attacking attempts were quickly snuffed out by vigilant and combatant trio of
Gabriel Olalekan, Festus Austine and new-signing, Aliassou Sannou. Rangers
would eventually wait till the 29th minute before their first meaningful
attempt on Sunday Rotimi’s goal.
That
chance had sprung out from Tope Olusesi’s brilliant cutback for the unmarked
Egbuchulam but the striker failed to beat the ageless Rotimi from six yards.
Earlier, Ovoke had sent a freekick narrowly wide of Nana Bonsu’s goal. The
Ghanaian had also thwarted Esosa Igbinoba’s effort in those early minutes of
dominance by the Rivers side.
Rangers
looked better after the interval and the introduction of Charles Henlong
offered the league defending champions more of the ball in midfield. What the
game lacked was just a goal and Ovoke nearly provided it when he ghosted into
the Rangers area but sent the ball flying over the crossbar. It would be his
last contribution as Bolaji Sakin replaced him minutes afterward.
Kuemian
would see his goal-bound strike blocked before Egbuchulam announced himself.
Quick exchanges with Godwin Aguda in the Rivers United area set up Egbuchulam
who unleashed an unstoppable strike that broke the deadlock. The stunner had
the crowd on their feet and while it recovered, Egbuchulam waited ten minutes
then repeated the feat.
Skinning
past Gabriel Olalekan, Egbuchulam curled his strike goalwards. It flew, past
Rotimi’s best effort, grazing the crossbar and into the net. If the first was
superb, the second was an absolute belter. United sought to respond and got a
lifeline when Bolaji Sakin won a penalty in the 76th minute. But Nana Bonsu was
keen on preserving his clean sheet, superbly stopping Ojobo’s effort from the
spot.
Rangers
nearly got their third when substitute Chiamaka Madu sold a dummy past his
marker but with Rotimi beaten, the ball hit the woodwork. Bonsu at the other
end denied United as they sought a consolation. Superior finishing by a player
of top quality had made all the difference between the two continental
candidates.
Line-ups
Rivers United: Rotimi, Ojobo,
Wassa, Sannou, Austine, Olalekan, Anaezemba, Kuemian, Ogbugh, Igbinoba, Ovoke
Subs: Thomas, Nweke,
Asekunowo, Obinze, Weli, Okonkwo, Sakin, Asamoah, Israel, Mohammed, Doumbia
Rangers: Bonsu, Okoro,
Okolie, Ousmane, Madu, Madu, Aguda, Olusesi, Udeagha, Egbuchulam, Clement
Subs: Akor, Odita,
Madu, Azeez, Enete, Anyasodo, Edoh, Henlong, Amaefule
Culled
from www.npfl.ng

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