Leaders Bashundhara Kings and Abahani continued their winning streak, but were made to work hard for their victories in the third round of matches of the Bangladesh Premier League yesterday.
Defending champions Kings were kept at bay in the first half by a determined Brothers Union at the Shaheed Dhirendranath Datta Stadium in Cumilla -- Kings' adopted home venue -- but a couple of tactical changes in the second half from Kings coach Oscar Bruzon changed the complexion of the game completely.
Mohammad Ibrahim came in for Mahbubur Rahman Sufil and the speedy winger created havoc for the Brothers defence. His darting run down the left on 64 minutes proved too much to handle for the Brothers defence and the cut-back at the end of the run was stabbed home by Robson Robinho, who got his third goal in three matches.
Ibrahim had another menacing run 15 minutes later, but this time his low shot was kept out by Brothers goalkeeper Titumir Chowdhury, who denied Raul Becerra from the edge of the box in the following minute.
Titumir came up with another save against the Argentine seven minutes later to keep his side in the game but the Gopeebagh outfit created next to nothing in terms of attack to cause any threat to Kings' victory.
The win moved the defending champions to nine points from three matches while Brothers, despite showing signs of improvement in the league, are still without a point after three matches.
ABAHANI LEAVE IT LATE
Abahani left it real late to clinch their third victory in three matches with a 1-0 win over Rahmatganj MFS at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in the second match of the day.
The six-time professional league champions were given a run for their money by Rahmatganj, who had collected a point in their previous two matches.
The Sky Blues had better ball possession and shots on goal, but the Old Dhaka outfit, too, had their moments in the game.
Former national team skipper Mamunul Islam swung in two early corner kicks, but those were headed wide by Nasiruddin Chowdhury and Francisco Rodrigues.
The Brazilian then had a superb reverse-shot from inside the box after the half-hour mark, but the effort was kept well out by Rahmatganj goalkeeper Rasel Mahmud Liton. Like the first match, substitutions made an impact in this game too. Abahani's double substitutes Jewel Rana and Raihan Hasan combined to get the decisive goal in the 79th minute, with Jewel heading home from in front of goal after Raihan's long throw-in was headed towards him by Kervens Belfort.
The former champions held on to their lead for the rest of the time and were relieved to go level on nine points with Kings at the top of the table.
POLICE OFF THE MARK
Bangladesh Police got their first points on the board with a 1-0 win over Uttar Baridhara in the third match of the day, thanks to an 81st-minute header from the Ivorian midfeilder Federic Pooda.
The Ivorian forward scrambled the ball across the goalline with a diving header off a cross from Faisal Ahmed as the newcomers bagged all three points in their third match, leaving Baridhara without a point from two matches.