Dhaka Abahani Limited moved jointly at the top of the Bangladesh Premier League points table after handing Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra a 1-0 defeat in their 16th round match at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Saturday.
Nigerian striker Emeka Darlington netted the all-important goal at the start of the game, which was enough for Abahani to salvage three vital points against the former treble winner, who rarely created any chance throughout the tie.
The Sky Blues are now jointly at the top of the premier league, along with Chittagong Abahani, with 36 points but the Chittagong outfit, who take on Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society Monday, have played a match less. Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited slid one place down to third with two points less and a game in hand.
It was Abahani's fourth straight victory in the league, and two of those wins came after the departure of Croatian heads coach Drago Mamic, while for Sheikh Russel, this was their third loss in the last four matches, keeping them sixth with 20 points.
Emeka, starting ahead of the other Nigerian Sunday Chizoba, gave Abahani the lead with only three minutes into the clock, heading home from an unmarked position inside the box following a high cross by Waly Faisal from the left flank. It was Emeka's sixth goal from 13 games.
Sheikh Russel head coach Shafiqul Islam Manik blamed his shaky defence for the goal, and for the defeat as well. When queried the reason behind their lack of goal-scoring chances, Manik said his foreign attackers were not upto the mark.
Abahani manager Satyajit Das Rupu, on the other hand, seemed content with the run of two wins in as many matches without Mamic, saying they could have scored more if the strikers had utilised the chances. Abahani dominated possession, controlled the midfield and went close to increasing their lead on at least two occasions. First, Emon Mahmud's long-range effort was saved by the goalkeeper while on the other occasion, Emeka's header was cleared off the line in the second half.
Meanwhile in the day's other game at the same venue, Farashganj Sporting Club edged Team BJMC 1-0, Amin bagging the match-winning goal in the 63rd minute from the penalty spot.
(Emeka 3) 0 Sk Russel
(Amin 63 - P) 0 BJMC