Bashundhara Kings moved back to the top as the 10th round of the Bangladesh Premier League came to an end, bringing a one-month break to the league's proceedings, yesterday.
With 14 rounds of play still remaining, the league will go to the break due to the national team's FIFA friendly against Cambodia next week and the under-23 team's participation in the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers in Bahrain later this month.
Bashundhara Kings, the Independence Cup champions, hosted title-rivals Sheikh Russel KC at the Sheikh Kamal Stadium in Nilphamari in one of the three matches on the last day of the 10th round.
After a barren first half in which both sides impressed without any reward, the newcomers started brightly again. Daniel Colindres' free-kick was almost put into his own net by Sheikh Russel midfielder Khalekurzaman in the 48th minute. The hosts earned a number of corners in the first ten minutes of the second half, but failed to make those count before a moment of excellence from Brazilian forward Marcos Vinicius in the 57th minute decided the fate of the game.
Shushanto Tripura's long diagonal ball was superbly cut back by Mohammad Ibrahim inside the opposition's danger zone, where Vinicius unfurled a brilliant bicycle kick from an acute angle, looping the ball over the head of Sheikh Russel goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana to find the net.
Sheikh Russel applied heavy pressure on the opposition's goal in the last 20 minutes of the game, with Raphael Odoyin going closest to scoring but Bashundhara Kings' defence held firm to eke out a crucial victory to consolidate their position.
The Independence Cup champions are the only team to have remained unbeaten so far and, with 25 points from nine matches, are a point ahead of defending champions Abahani, who have played 10 matches. Sheikh Russel, on the other hand, remained in third position with 20 points from nine matches.
Meanwhile, Muktijoddha Sangsad bounced back from their defeat against Arambagh with a 3-0 win over Brothers Union at the Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni Stadium in Gopalganj.
Japanese forward Yousuke Kato scored twice either side of the break before setting up Mehedi Hasan Royel for the third goal in injury time to heap more pressure on the struggling Brothers Union. Muktijoddha moved to sixth position with 13 points from nine matches while Brothers remained bottom of the table with only three points.
At the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Rahmatganj MFS held visitors Arambagh KS to a 1-1 draw. Zahid Hossain opened the scoring for Arambagh from a penalty in the fourth minute before Siyo Zunapio restored parity in the 36th minute. Arambagh are in sixth position with 16 points from 10 matches while Rahmatganj moved to ninth position with eight points from nine matches.