Table-toppers, Rivers United survived an early scare yesterday as they rallied back to beat Abia Warriors 2-1 in the NPFL Week 33 match played in Port-Harcourt.
Anthony Okemiri who got proceedings underway was the same man who opened the scoring for Abia Warriors with a thunderous shot from outside the box in the first minute but Chijioke Akuneto levelled the scores for Rivers United from the spot in the 69th minute.
Akuneto then grabbed his brace and match winner in the 77th minute to ensure the hosts took all three points and also opened a 10-point gap at the top of the table after their closest rivals, Plateau United stumbled 2-1 against 3SC in Ibadan.
In Makurdi, Lobi Stars laboured to a nervy 2-1 win over Heartland after Ebuka Okoro and Chijioke Mbaoma were red carded in added minutes of the second half for dissent and unsportsmanlike behaviour respectively.
The first half of the feisty contest ended in a barren draw after Lobi Stars’ Chinoso Okonkwo missed from the spot but the hosts were awarded another penalty 10 minutes into the second half and Nanen Barnabas Imenger stepped forward to break the deadlock.
However, Chukwuma Ndukwu drew the visitor’s level in the 66th minute when he got on the end of Ebuka Okoro’s cross but after sustained pressure, substitute Ifeanyi Ogba scored with a deft touch in added time to hand Lobi Stars the crucial victory.
With the win, Lobi Stars have moved out of the drop zone to 14th place on the table with 40 points from 32 completed matches.
Elsewhere, Kano Pillars’ return to Sani Abacha stadium ended in disappointment as they were forced to a 1-1 draw by Wikki Tourists after Shafiu Usman cancelled out Fahad Usman’s 14th-minute opener which came directly from a corner kick.
Auwalu Ali Mallam missed a golden opportunity to win the match for Pillars when his kick from the spot was saved by goalkeeper Galadima Mohammed in the 83rd minute.
Meanwhile, apart from Lobi Stars, all other relegation-troubled teams dropped points as Niger Tornadoes fell 1-2 at Sunshine Stars, MFM lost 1-2 at Katsina United while Dakkada forced Gombe United to a 2-2 draw at the Pantami stadium.
However, there were home wins for Akwa United who beat Remo Stars 1-0 in Uyo, Nasarawa United recorded a slim 1-0 win over 10-man Rangers in Jos while Enyimba trounced Kwara United 3-0 in the early kick-off in Aba.