Arambagh produced the first surprise in the Bangladesh Premier League, handing a 2-1 defeat to hosts Chattogram Abahani in Chattogram while Sheikh Jamal recorded an identical 2-1 win over hosts Mukitjoddha Sangsad in Gopalganj yesterday.
Boosted with a single-goal win over Sheikh Jamal in their first match, a rejuvenated Chattogram Abahani started strongly at the MA Aziz Stadium and had more of the ball but Arambagh stunned Maruful Haque's charges by taking a lead against the run of the play.
Transitioning quickly from defence to attack, Didarul Haque released a through ball for Eleta Kingsley, who raced onto the pass past three Abahani players before driving an angled shot from the edge of the box past goalkeeper Mohammad Nehal in the 38th minute.
However, the lead lasted only eight minutes. Chattogram Abahani leveled one minute into stoppage time of the first half when Chinedu Mathew ran down from the right flank and squared it to unmarked Shakhawat Hossain Rony, who tapped home.
With the clock trickling into the final minute of stoppage time in the first half, Arambagh again surprised the port city outfit after a basic error from defender Shawkat Russel.
Arambagh's Egyptian midfielder released a long ball aimed at Kingsley, but found the feet of opposing right-back Russel, whose underhit pass to the goalkeeper was pounced upon by Kingsley. The Nigerian marksman made no mistake in restoring the lead with another cool finish to the far post.
After resumption, Chattogram Abahani pushed for the equaliser and Nixon rattled the crossbar before Arambagh defender Anisur Alam Sweet's attempted clearance fortunately ricocheted off his own post. Ultimately, Arambagh held their nerve and ended the game with their heads high.
FOREIGNERS POWER SHEIKH JAMAL
Away at the Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni Stadium in Gopalganj, three-time champions Sheikh Jamal's win over Muktijoddha Sangsad was secured by a goal apiece from their Gambian duo of Pa Omar Jobe and Solomon King.
Sheikh Jamal looked determined to taste their first win of the new campaign against Muktijoddha Sangsad, who are going through a players' payment crisis which even saw players not train for two days before the start of the league on February 13.
Muktijoddha Sangsad's vulnerable backline were unable to stop Sheikh Jamal's foreign attacking lineup, who made the difference in the match. Former national winger Zahid Hossain whipped in a nice cross from the right for Jobe, who scored on the rebound after seeing his fierce header come off the crossbar in the 44th minute.
It did not take long after resumption for Muktijoddha Sangsad to hit back and they found the equaliser from a counter attack. Midfielder Mohammad Sohel released a defence-splitting through ball for Cameroon's Paul Emile, who advanced into the attacking third before driving a shot from the edge of the box past Sheikh Jamal goalkeeper Ziaur Rahman in the 47th minute.
Sheikh Jamal restored their lead in the 73rd minute with long-serving Solomon heading home a Mozzamel Hossain cross into the box and the Dhanmondi-based outfit walked away with the full three points.