Abahani and Sheikh Russel KC completed the first phase of their Bangladesh Premier League campaign with wins over Uttar Baridhara Club and Bangladesh Police respectively at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Abahani survived a scare to notch up a hard-fought 2-1 win against Baridhara after Sheikh Russel thumped Bangladesh Police 5-0.
The outcome helped Abahani regain second place with 25 points from 12 matches, five points clear of fourth-placed Sheikh Russel, who now have 20 points from 12 games.
Following a disappointing 1-2 defeat against Uttar Baridhara in their previous game, Sheikh Russel bounced back brilliantly as they toyed with helpless Police throughout the game.
Former champions Sheikh Russel took only six minutes to break the deadlock when Nigerian Obi Moneke headed home a Habibur Rahman throw-in from inside the box before Brazilian Lopes Rodrigues doubled the lead in the 28th minute.
Mohammad Abdullah increased the lead further in the 34th minute as Sheikh Russel went to the half-time break with a comfortable 3-0 lead. Abdullah completed his brace in the 69th minute when he saw his cross from the right flank make it into the back of the net, courtesy of Police goalkeeper Saiful Islam Khan's poor attempt to clear with fist.
Despite having struck four goals, Sheikh Russel looked hungry for more and they netted their fifth in the 83rd minute -- a tap-in by Tajik defender Siyovush Asrorove.
In the second match under the floodlight, Uttar Baridhara, boosted by a surprising win over Sheikh Russel in the previous match, gave their opponents a run for their money before suffering their fifth defeat in the league.
Abahani, the six-time champions, however, squandered a lot of opportunities with goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Shohel making some crucial saves that eventually helped the Sky Blues leave the ground with their heads held high.
Brazilian Francisco Rodrigues gave Abahani the lead in the 26th minute, converting a penalty after Mohammad Sohel brought down Abahani's Jewel Rana inside the box.
After the resumption, Abahani's lead was doubled in the 55th minute, thanks to an own goal by defender Saiddoston Fozilov. The Uzbekistan defender fired home from inside the box while attempting to clear a powerful cross from Haitian Kervens Belfort. Afterwards both sides squandered a good number of opportunities before Uttar Baridhara reduced the margin through a tap-in from Egyptian Abdel Rahim in the 90th minute.