Mohammedan finally broke Saif SC's resistance after three years as the Black and Whites came out with a 2-1 win in their Bangladesh Premier League encounter at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
The struggling giants had failed to overcome the hurdle posed by new sensations Saif SC for nearly three-and-half years after defeating them 3-0 on their first meeting in Saif SC's debut season in 2017. Since then, they have met six times in the league and Federation Cup but Mohammedan lost thrice and drew thrice.
The triumph also helped Mohammedan leagfrog Saif SC into fifth position in the 13-team table as well as avenge their 1-2 defeat to Saif SC in the reverse matchday. With a seventh victory, Mohammedan also raised their point tally to 27, two behind archrivals Abahani and 13 less than leaders Bashundhara Kings.
Although Mohammedan have been playing without head coach Sean Lane, the Black and Whites looked rejuvenated under the guidance of assistant coach Alfaz Ahmed. They kept their attacking attitude intact throughout the match against Saif, who launched the first attack before Nigerian Kenneth Ngwoke saw his shot hit the side netting in 20th minute.
Mohammedan also squandered an easy opportunity when Jafar Iqbal whipped a nice cross in to an unmarked Rakib Khan Evan, who was too late too in connecting with the ball with just the keeper to beat in the 25th minute before Ngwoke again drove miles off target 11 minutes later.
After resumption, Mohammedan kept pressing for the lead but were denied by woodwork three minutes into the second half. Souleymane Diabate headed a Habibur Rahman cross onto the near post before new-singing Cameroonian Yassan Ouatching gave Mohammedan a deserved lead in the 52nd minute. The tall striker made no mistake tapping home after Diabate's header ricocheted off the crossbar.
Diabate then got an opportunity to double the lead but the Malian striker drove straight to goalkeeper Pappu Hossain in the 56th minute before Ngwoke was denied by Mohammedan goalkeeper Hossain Suzan two minutes later.
Saif SC finally hit back to level the margin in the 68th minute when John Okoli ran down the left, entered the box and cut back for substitute Maraz Hossain, who drove past goalkeeper Suzan.
However, Mohammedan restored their lead seven minutes from time and left the field with a seventh triumph after Diabate availed a through-pass from Jafar Iqbal, rounded defender Emanuel Ariwachukwu and fired home from inside the box.
In the day's second match between, a second-half strike from captain Charles Didier steered Ctg Abahani to a 1-0 win over strugglers Arambagh.
Following a barren first half, the game burst into life late in the second half after captain Didier found the back of the net with a brilliant free-kick in the 78th minute. Ctg Abahani were then awarded a penalty after defender Shahad Mia handled a chip from Nasirul Islam, but Didier squandered that chance before Shakhawat Hossain Rony was denied by woodwork two minutes from the final whistle.
The sixth triumph meant Ctg Abahani remain seventh with 22 points from 14 games while Arambagh suffered 13 defeats in 14 matches and have only one point.