Sheikh Russel continued their eight-year streak of not losing to Mohammedan SC in the Bangladesh Premier League as the visiting Black and Whites surrendered a lead to play out a 1-1 draw at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Sheikh Russel last lost to Mohammedan in 2013 during the sixth edition of the league and since then the 2012 champions defeated Mohammedan eight times and drew three times before playing out another stalemate yesterday in their 24th league meeting.
Smarting from a 1-2 drubbing at the hands of Saif SC in their home match in Cumilla, Mohammedan looked determined to secure full points and they had the lion's share of possession but lacked bite in the attacking third after taking the lead from a spot kick.
Sheikh Russel were rather more effective in the attacking third as they troubled the Mohammedan backline on a few occasions but had to drop points in the third match after two consecutive wins due to the poor finishing of their forwards.
Both Mohammedan and Russel came close to taking the lead once each but both goalkeepers stood tall to thwart attacks before Malian striker Souleymane Diabate sent Sheikh Russel goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana the wrong way from the spot one minute into first-half stoppage time after defender Sohel Rana handled the ball inside the box.
After resumption, Mohammedan looked intent on doubling the lead but their attacks were in vain in the face of a solid backline but Sheikh Russel took advantage of the transition period by launching quick counterattacks.
Brazilian Lopes Rodrigues did not hesitate to level the margin with a close-range header in the 56th minute after Mohammedan goalkeeper Ahsan Habib Bipu failed to gather another header from Hemanta Vincent Biswas. Lopes and Mohammad Elias squandered two good chances to wrap up the third victory for Sheikh Russel, who now have seven points -- four more than Mohammedan, with each team having played three matches.
NIXON POWERS CTG ABAHANI
A first-half strike from Brazilian forward Nixon Guylherme powered Chattogram Abahani to a 1-0 win over Federation Cup runners-up Saif Sporting Club in the day's second match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
The tie was very important for the clubs after their disappointing start -- Saif SC dropped points against Rahmtganj MFS and Ctg Abahani lost to Sheikh Jamal DC. They staged a comeback to win their respective second matches last week.
Although Saif SC beat Ctg Abahani 3-0 in the Federation Cup semifinals, the port city outfit dominated throughout the match, except the latter parts, after Nixon struck the all-important goal in the 24th minute to ensure Ctg Abahani's second win and Saif's first defeat in their third match.
MUKTIJODDHA TASTE victory
Muktioddha Sangsad notched their maiden victory in this year's league when the hosts handed a 1-0 defeat to visiting Arambagh KS at Brishreshtha Flight Lt Motinur Rahman Stadium in Munshiganj yesterday.
Forward Mehdi Hasan Royal, who also struck a goal in their 2-1 defeat to Sheikh Jamal, struck the decisive goal in the 47th minute to sink Arambagh KS, who have suffered three straight defeats to stay at the bottom of the 13-team table.