Enyimba beats Rangers International 2-1 in their rescheduled Nigeria professional football league (NPFL) matchday 20 fixture on Thursday afternoon in Aba to rekindle their title hopes, Owosports.com.ng reports.
Victor Mbaoma and Cyril Olisema where the goal scorers as the People’s Elephants secured maximum points which saw Enyimba move up to sixth on the log with 44 points while Rangers drops to seventh with 42 points.
A third minute strike from Mbaoma handed the hosts the perfect start they deserved. Pint sized winger Anayo Iwuala slid in a beautiful assist to the striker who was gracious with the opener.
Rangers replied three minutes later, this time Israel Abia profited from John Noble’s gaffe to level matters for the Flying Antelopes.
Both sides continued to throw men forward in pursuit of Bragging Rights in the Oriental Derby.
After a patient build up, Enyimba fired through Dare Olatunji. Rangers’ Seidu Mutawakilu parried on to the cross bar and to safety. From the corner, Mbaoma volleyed over.
There was drama in the 27th minute. Rangers winger Ibrahim Olawoyin was sent off for a second bookable offence. After due consultation with the fourth official, the centre referee cancelled the decision.
Enyimba leapt in front again, Cyril Olisema profited from Anayo’s chested pass to score from 20 yards shortly after the half hour.
In the 35th minute, Anayo majestically made his way into the Rangers box before firing a wicked shot that was saved by goalkeeper Mutawakilu.
The hosts were still on the ascendancy. Mbaoma shot from the edge of the box but it went straight to Mutawakilu.
At the other end, Rangers had a rare attempt on goal. Ifeanyi Nweke’s curler sailed over.
Seven minutes into the second half, there was a great chance for Rangers to level. Tope Olusesi’s free kick left Noble in no man’s land but central defender Uche John headed off target.
Rangers boss Yusuf Salisu effected double substitutions to remedy the situation. Kenechukwu Agu and Esor Archibong come on for Chiamaka Madu and Godspower Aniefiok respectively.
These changes didn’t deter Enyimba from creating chances.
Winger Reuben Bala met Bilal Yakubu’s free kick with a volley. Goalkeeper Mutawakilu was at the right place to collect calmly.
A smart save Mutawakilu denied substitute Tosin Omoyele who toe-poked Dare Olatunji’s ball.
The Flying Antelopes did improve as the second half progressed, but it was not to be for Salisu’s.
Enyimba will host Nasarawa United in their next NPFL fixture Sunday, while Rangers will remain on the road as they travel to Uyo to face Dakkada International.