Dawda Ceesay scored twice as former champions Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra made a commanding start to their Bangladesh Premier League campaign with a 3-0 victory over Muktijoddha Sangsad KC at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
The Gambian forward, who scored either side of the break, should have got the first hattrick of the league, but he squandered two gilt-edged chances in the second half in the lopsided affair.
The first chance of the match, though, came at the other end as Muktijoddha's right wing-back Monir Alam made a threatening move in the 23rd minute. The defender darted speedily down the flank into the box, dancing past three opposition players, but his final shot, which was rather hastily taken, was too wayward to trouble the opposition goalkeeper.
Things looked pretty lackadaisical in the first half hour, but all that changed with the opening goal, coming from Sheikh Russel midfielder Khalekuzzaman in the 32nd minute. The midfielder spotted a long chip from inside his own half and raced ahead of two Muktijoddha defenders to head it in from a distance before Muktijoddha goalkeeper Uttam Barua could get to the ball.
The lead was doubled four minutes later as Ceesay picked the left top corner of the net with a thunderous strike from his left foot, after cutting past a Muktijoddha defender at the edge of the box on a through-pass from skipper Shahedul Alam.
The All Reds were unlucky not to reduce the arrears before the break as two wonderful opportunities came their way within a space of a few minutes. Motiur Rahman saw his point-blank attempt fisted over by Sheikh Russel's goalkeeper Ziaur Rahman before Saikat Hossain Munna's effort in stoppage time of the first half came off the far post.
Ceesay should have made it 3-0 seven minutes after restart as he found acres of space after darting into the box on a through-pass from Shahedul, but the Gambian's heavy first touch knocked the ball out of his reach.
The Gambian did get his second goal in the 78th minute with a simple tap-in after substitute Alamgir Kabir Rana cut the ball back, having expertly rounded off the Muktijoddha keeper.
Ceesay was then denied a deserved hattrick by the woodwork in the last minute of regulation time, but Sheikh Russel happily took the 3-0 win in their opening match, after having finished eighth last season.
Meanwhile last season's runners-up, Chittagong Abahani, got off to a winning start as well, handing a 2-0 defeat to promoted Farashganj SC in the second match of the day.
National team forward Zahid Hossain was the architect of the victory as his cross was deflected into the net by Farashganj defender Malick Mendy in the 42nd minute before Tawhidul Alam Sabuj headed home his free-kick in stoppage time of the first half.