- Published on Sunday, 23 July 2017 23:34
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By Sanipe Damiete
Rivers United put up a good performance to beat hard-fighting Wikki Tourists 3-1 in a keenly contested Matchday 31 fixture of the Nigeria Professional Football League in Port Harcourt on Sunday.
Having suffered a surprise home loss to Sunshine Stars on Wednesday, Rivers United did not want to repeat same fate as they started like a house on fire pressuring their opponents in the opening moments of a very entertaining match.
Despite their superior ball possession, chances were few and far between until the 10th minute when United took the lead with the very first attempt at goal. Chiwendu Ali in a rare start delivered a good cross that found unmarked Guy Keumian in the box but his weak header somehow found its way into the net as Wikki's goalkeeper, Emeka Nwabulu totally misjudged the flight of the ball.
A minute later, Nwabulu made two saves in quick succession to keep his side in the game as United maintained a steady foray of attacks at the opponents.
Wikki did not just sit back as they grew into the game and took the initiative as their first shot at goal came in the 22nd minute howbeit a wayward shot by Waziri Christopher from about 25 yards. At the other end, United almost punished the visitors but Lukman Mohammed headed wide from two yards when Ifeanyi Nweke's pinpoint cross found him unmarked in the box.
Three minutes later, Chiwendu Ali made a timely interception to stop a promising attack from Wikki after a good team build-up.
The best moment of the game came on the stroke of half time as a sumptuous finish from Emeka Ogbugh got most spectators on their feet that could easily get a nod for contender of the goal of the season. Lukman crossed a ball and Ogbugh took it first on his chest and took a fierce volley on the turn from the edge of the box to double United's lead. Rivers United went into the break with a two-goal lead.
Rivers United continued from where they stopped and peppered their visitors with series of attacks early in the second half. In the 52nd minute, Nwabulu was forced to make yet another double save before denying Ogbugh his second as he quickly rushed out of his line to intercept Ogbugh who was put through on goal.
Wikki made two substitutions during the break which added bright sparks to their team play and they started creating opportunities and drew one back in the 49th minute when Chinedu Onyelonu put Abubakar Lawal through on goal and he beat goalkeeper Abiodun Akande to the ball to score.
Akande injured himself in the process and was replaced by Rotimi Sunday but that did not discourage United as they went in search of a third and got it from the spot when Lukman was upended in the box. Chiwendu Ali stepped forward to restore the two-goal lead and the match finished 3-1 despite changes from both coaches. Rivers United next play Akwa United on Wednesday in a rescheduled game as they continue the march out of relegation waters.
Rivers United: Akande Abiodun (Rotimi Sunday 55'); Nweke Ifeanyi, Chiwendu Ali, Atuloma Emeka, Douhaji Joseph, Olalakan Gabriel, Weli Christian, Ogbugh Emeka, Lukman Mohammed, Kuemian Venance Guy (John Odumegwu 72'), Igbinoba Esosa (Jaiyeola Yusuf)
Unused subs: Doumbia Zoumana, Israel Daniel, Eguakun Efosa, Semiu Liadi
Coach: Stanley Eguma
Wikki Tourists: Emeka Nwabulu (Sani Haliru 46'); Mustapha Ibrahim, Waziri Christopher, Harrison Madu, Abdullahi Musa, Ambrose Peter, Ajoku Chidiebere, Abubakar Lawal, Chinedu Onyelonu, Victor Alegbe, Ismael Bagayan (Richard Jonathan 46')
Unused subs: Anyanwu Nnaemeka, Chukwudi Samuel, Idris Guda, Mubarak Umar
Coach: Bala Nikyu
Rivers United 3-1 Wikki Tourists
On target: 7-2
Corner kicks: 3-4
Man of the match: Chiwendu Ali (Rivers United)
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