Holder Abahani Limited continued their amazing run in the second phase of the Bangladesh Premier League as they maintained their lead at the top of the points table after registering their eighth consecutive win following their 2-0 win over Brothers Union at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Sunday.
Two other teams in contention for the title race – Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited and Chittagong Abahani Limited - also took on each other in the day's second match where the Dhanmondi outfit strolled to a comfortable 3-1 victory, extending their unbeaten run to 10 games.
The five-time professional league winner Abahani have won all their eight matches in the second phase. Their last defeat came in the last game of the first phase against Saif Sporting Club on November 13, 2016, while they played their previous six matches without the Serbia-born Croatian head coach Drago Mamic.
The indomitable form saw the Sky Blues sit currently at the top of the standing with an one-point lead over their Dhanmondi counterpart, Sheikh Jamal. With only two more rounds to play, Abahani now have 48 points from 20 games while Chittagong Abahani, who led the first phase, remained third with 43 points.
Abahani dominated the game but the first real threat came from the Gopibagh outfit in the 22nd minute when Denmark-born expatriate forward Joseph Rahman's header from a cross by Salauddin was blocked by Abahani defender Tutul Hossain Badshah.
Versatile veteran defender Nasir Uddin Chowdhury put the Sky Blues ahead in the 32nd minute, placing home into an empty net after Emon Babu's corner from the left flag slipped from the hands of Brothers goalkeeper Sujon Chowdhury.
In-form Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba tried his luck with a powerful side-volley from 25 yards out, only to see the effort go outside the sidepost.
Rubel Mia doubled the lead at the hour mark with a spectacular chip. After collecting the ball from a missed clearance by the Brothers defence, following Abahani keeper Shahidul Alam Sohel's long goal-kick, the national forward chipped the ball over the custodian from the top of the box to find the back of the net.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Jamal's foreign attacking trio -Raphael Onwrebe, Solomon King and Momodou Ba - steered their side to another convincing win.
Nigerian striker Raphael gave Sheikh Jamal the lead in the 11th minute, placing home past Chittagong Abahani netminder Ashraful Islam Rana after Ali Hossain's initial effort from outside the box deflected off the defence. Gambian forward Solomon Kanform doubled the lead in the 36th minute, placing home a low cross from Raphael from the left side.
Chittagong Abahani pulled one back in the 61st minute. A deep-lying corner by Zahid Hossain fell onto a goal-mouth scramble on the goal-line. Sheikh Jamal keeper Mohammad Nayeem missed the flight and following slight touch from Alison Udoka, the ball bounced inside home. Sheikh Jamal forward Javed Khan however, came off the bench to seal victory in the 83rd minute.
Abahani will face Sheikh Jamal Friday at the BNS and a win there will ensure their sixth professional league title. Abahani will conclude their fixture with the match against Chittagong Abahani on January 11 while Sheikh Jamal will face Farashganj Sporting Club in their last game.
(Nasir 32, Rubel 60) 0 Brothers
Sk Jamal 3
(Raphael 11, Kanform 36, Javed 83) 1 Ctg Abahani
Mohammedan v Arambagh, 4:30pm
Farashganj v Muktijoddha, 6:45pm
Both the games will be held at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka