Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) defending champions, Rivers United, started their title defence on a winning note as they laboured to a 2-1 win over 10-man Lobi Stars in the 2023 abridged league Week One match played Sunday at the Adokiye Amasiemaka stadium in Port-Harcourt.
However, the visitors were left fuming over poor officiating as apart from the dismissal of one of their dependable defenders, Sunday Chinedu, early in the second half, the home team’s winning goal came by way of a controversial penalty.
Maurice Chukwu had put Rivers United ahead in the 16th minute but former Katsina United man, Umar Abba, restored parity for Lobi Stars in the 55th minute.
But in the 64th minute, Lobi Stars suffered a major setback as they were reduced to 10 men when hard-like-nail defender Sunday Chinedu, was sent off for a second bookable offence.
- S/Court orders INEC to conduct fresh delineation of wards, units in Delta
- How Nigeria earned $4.82bn from non-oil exports in 2022 – Dr Yakusak
Despite their numerical advantage, Rivers United struggled against the visitors until they were awarded a controversial penalty which Kenechukwu Agu converted in the 10th minute of added time.
Elsewhere, last season’s runners-up, Plateau United, escaped home defeat by the whiskers as they fought back to draw 3-3 with 3SC of Ibadan.
However, Rangers weren’t lucky as they went down 0-2 to neighbours, Abia Warriors in Awka, just as Wikki Tourists also lost 0-2 to Niger Tornadoes in Bauchi.
In another Group A match, returnees El-Kanemi Warriors were beaten 2-0 by Remo Stars in Ikenne while Gombe United forced Kwara United to a 0-0 draw at the Lekan Salami stadium in Ibadan.
At the Pantami stadium, new boys Doma United started life in the top flight on a shaky note as they were forced to a 1-1 draw by Sunshine Stars.
Charles Chibuke became the first player to score a Premier League goal for Doma United when he netted the opener in the 38th minute but Ibrahim Yusuf equalised at the death for a share of the spoils.
Bayelsa United also drew 1-1 with Dakkada in Yenagoa after Flying Eagles star, Daniel Daga, cancelled out Mizo’s goal with an exquisite finish in the eighth minute of second-half added time.
In the other Group A match played on Saturday, host Nasarawa United lost 1-2 to Enyimba at the new Jos Township stadium.
At the end of Week One matches, four away wins, four draws and two home victories were recorded.
Nigerians can now earn US Dollars by acquiring premium domain names, most clients earn about $7,000 to $10,000, all paid in US Dollars. Click here to learn how to start.