Sheikh Jamal DC took the lead in the JB Bangladesh Premier League with a nerve-wracking 3-2 win over Muktijoddha Sangsad in a crucial encounter at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Emeka Darlington struck an early brace before Wedson Anselme netted one as the three-time professional league champions took a 3-0 advantage within the first 35 minutes. Muktijoddha pulled one back before the break and added another in the second half, but the Dhanmondi giants held on to the lead and so they now have 15 points from seven matches while Muktijoddha slipped to second position with 12 points.
Sheikh Jamal's new coach Stefan Hansson watched his side's third straight win from the dugout as the charges of interim coach Masud Parvez Kaiser established their full control in the match from the outset. After Emeka scored two goals within the first nine minutes, Wedson curled one in from 30 yards out on the 34th minute making the game seemingly out of reach for Muktijoddha.
However, the All Reds staged a fightback, with Towhidul Alam converting a spot-kick penalty in stoppage time after Ahmed Kolo Musa had squandered one in the 13th minute.
After resumption, a reorganised Muktijoddha put up a spirited effort to create a lot of scoring opportunities, but only one of those chances were converted by Simon Ezeodika in the 75th minute. Sheikh Jamal were reduced to 10 men a minute later but held the slender lead nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Team BJMC tasted their first victory in seven matches with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Uttar Baridhara Club in the day's first match. The win took Team BJMC to the seventh position on the table with seven points while a sixth straight defeat left Uttar Baridhara second from bottom with only three points to their name.
With the league resuming after a one-month break, both the relegation battlers failed to carry the spirit from the first six rounds, yet fought equally till the last minute. However, Team BJMC, who survived two scares either side of the break, came out with all three points.
Mazharul Islam Sourav had put Uttar Baridhara ahead in the 10th minute with a header from a perfect free-kick courtesy of Khalekuzzaman but the lead lasted only for two minutes as Nigerian Samson Iliaus levelled the margin with a header.
Samson then gave BJMC the lead in the 40th minute after availing a square-pass from Abdullah Al Mamun. The goal took the Nigerian to the top of goalscorers' chart with five goals alongside Ahmed Kolo Musa of Muktijoddha Sangsad.
BJMC soon survived two close calls. Khalekuzzaman rattled the crossbar with a powerful drive from 35 yards three minute before the break while Kenyan hitman Collins Tiego failed to equalise the margin two minutes into the second half despite finding the opposition goalkeeper alone inside the box.