Heavyweights Bashundhara Kings and a rejuvenated Chattogram Abahani got off to winning starts, but title contenders Sheikh Russel stumbled against visiting Brothers Union on the opening day of the Bangladesh Premier League across three venues yesterday.
Interestingly, all five goals scored in the three matches came from foreign players, who basically made the difference in all three matches.
COLINDRES SINKS BARIDHARA
A late strike from Daniel Colindres helped holders Bashundhara notch a hard-fought 1-0 win over just-promoted Uttar Baridhara Club. Although the latter gave their superior opponents a run for their money, they were not lucky enough to snatch a point from the home side at the Sheikh Kamal Stadium in Nilphamari.
Bashundhara Kings, who started the season by lifting the Federation Cup five weeks ago, were made to sweat against Baridhara. The holders could hardly find any holes in the opposition defence but still fortunate to leave with three points courtesy of a strike from inspiring Costa Rican forward Colindres.
After a barren first half, Bashundhara Kings pushed hard for the lead and Argentine midfielder Nicolas Delmonte saw his left-footed shot from 30 yards go inches over in the 46th minute.
Spanish coach Oscar Bruzon strengthened the attacking line-up by sending on the fresh legs of Mahbubur Rahmn Sufil and Colindres rattled the sidebar in the 69th minute.
Centre-back Tapu Barman then failed to connect to a free-kick from Colindres in the 74th minute and three minutes later, Baridhara came close to taking the lead as Suman Reza rattled the woodwork.
Bashundhara ultimately broke the deadlock in the 86th minute when Baridhara defenders failed to stop a lob from Sufil and an unmarked Colindres tapped in from close range to send the few hundred spectators into a frenzy.
However, the holders left the field with 10 men after defender Yeasin Khan committed a second bookable offense just a minute before regulation time ended.
NIGERIAN DUO OVERPOWER SHEIKH JAMAL IN DHAKA
One goal each from from Nigeria's Chendu Mathew and Jean Charles Didier powered visiting Chattogram Abahani to a convincing 2-0 win over three-time champions Sheikh Jamal at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
A rejuvenated Chattogram Abahani created more chances compared to their opponents and came close to taking the lead in the 17th minute but a powerful header from Uzbek defender Shukur Ali came off the crossbar.
Chittagong Abahani finally took a deserved lead in the 55th minute when national midfielder Rakib Hossain played a diagonal pass to Mathew on the edge of the box and the Nigerian shrugged off his marker before firing home from inside the box.
Ten minutes later, Maruful Haque's charges doubled the lead as Mathew entered the box from the right side and cut back to Didier, who did not hesitate in driving a powerful left-footer past goalkeeper Ziaur Rahman.
After going two goals down, Sheikh Jamal coach Shafiqul Islam Manik sent on three pairs of fresh legs but it had made hardly an impact and Chattogram Abahani left the field with three points.
OTABEK CLAIMS DRAW WITH STUNNER
Although they finished in third place last season, Sheikh Russel opened the new season by dropping points to lightweights Brothers Union after surrendering a first-half lead in a 1-1 draw at the Sylhet District Stadium.
Sheikh Russel got off to a fine start by taking the lead in the fourth minute through Raphael Odoyin, who rose above Brothers' foreign centre-back pairing to nod home a well-judged cross from Yeamin Munna.
However, the 2012 champions failed to hold onto the lead and Brothers levelled on the hour mark. Otabek worked hard on the left, nutmegging three players on his way into the box, before unleashing a curling shot from inside the box past national goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana to claim a share of the spoils.