The departure of Croatian head coach Drago Mamic had little impact as holder Dhaka Abahani Limited continued their winning streak in the Bangladesh Premier League, beating Team BJMC comfortably 4-1 at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Tuesday.
In the day's other match at the same venue, table-topper Chittagong Abahani Limited were held to a 2-2 draw by Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra in a thrilling encounter, which left the title race wide open.
The traditional Sky Blues closed the gap to only three points with the leader and, at the same time, caught second-placed Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited in the points table. Abahani now have 33 points from 15 matches and only goal difference kept them at third place.
It was Abahani's third straight victory and thanks to a goal each from Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, Sunday Chizoba, Emon Mahmud and substitute Emeka Darlington, they barely felt the absence of the departing Mamic.
Versatile defender Nasir put the Sky Blues ahead in the 13th minute, heading home from a Waly Faisal cross from the left flank before Nigerian striker Sunday doubled the lead in the 33rd minute, placing home past the onrushing BJMC goalkeeper Arifuzzaman Hemel after one-to-one with youngster Nabib Newaj Jibon.
BJMC's Nigerian forward Kingsley Oshiokha pulled one back four minutes into the second half when his shot from outside the box deflected off an Abahani defender before entering the net.
Abahani however, maintained their dominance over the opposition and piled more pressure. Emon scored a brilliant goal straight from a delightful corner in the 70th minute as his curved effort from the left flag bounced in front of the goal-line before hitting the side net. Emeka came off the bench to seal victory in injury time with a precise header from the edge of the six-yard box.
Meanwhile, it took Sheikh Russel only six minutes to open the scoring against Chittagong Abahani through midfielder Monayem Khan Raju. Snatching the ball from Sohel Rana, Raju unleashed a right-footed strike from 20 yards which rolled home into the bottom right corner. Haitian forward Leonel Preux put things in level in the 43rd minute, heading home a low cross by Mohammad Abdullah.
The port city outfit went ahead in the 83rd minute after in-form national winger Zahid Hossain's diving header, following another Abdullah cross, hit the back of the net. The delight didn't last long though as Haitian defender Francios Jacques restored parity five minutes later with an opportunist header.
(Nasir 13, Sunday 33, Emon 70, Emeka 90+3) 1 BJMC
Ctg Abahani 2
(Preux 43, Zahid 83) 2 Sk Russell
(Raju 6, Francois 88)