Abahani ride on Prodeep's penalty
An 84-minute penalty strike from Prodeep helped the 10-men Abahani Limited edge past Bangladesh Army by a solitary goal in the super-league of the Nitol-Tata Fifth National Football League at Bangabandhu National Stadium in the city Wednesday, reports BDNEWS.
With the day's victory, Abahani Limited almost confirmed their semifinal berths with seven points including four bonus points, following Brothers Union and Muktijoddha Sangsad, who earned five points.
Bangladesh Army remained on three bonus points.
Despite the superior ball procession, the popular Sky Blue outfit had to wait a long for the match-winner through a penalty kick.
Referee Ram Krishna Gosh did not hesitate to award a penalty kick to Abahani when Army defender Anwar handed a Tipu shot inside the box. Abahani central defender Prodeep converted the penalty six minutes from time.
The Dhanmondi outfits, who played the second round matches superbly, were strongly resisted by the Army defenders, who tried to snatch a point from the Dhaka giants with a draw.
But, the Army men failed to survive against the big gun despite Abahani Limited were reduced to 10-men in the last 20 minutes. Ghanaian striker Awudu Ibrahim sent off after pushing Army defender Anwar in off-ball situation.
Abdullah Parvez could have given the Abahani a lead in the very first minute, but the promising left-winger floated over the Army crosspiece while Army skipper-cum-custodian Monirul gripped a Tipu's shot at the top of the box smoothly.
Abdullah Parvez again squandered a sitter from very close rang in the 25th minute as his left-footer went over the crosspiece.
The Army men first came in the attack in the 27th minute, but Abahani goalie Nizam thwarted striker Atik's angular shot from the right at the cost of corner.
Ibrahim's left-footer was narrowly missed the target as the shot on the running ball went out rattling the Army-bar in the 45th minute.
National striker Tipu, who played for the first time in NFL after getting the release from the national booters' camp, spoiled the easiest opportunity in injury time as the striker sent the ball wide off the post after being set up by Ndem inside the box.
After the breather, Abahani long serving coach Amolesh Sen brought changes fielding national striker Farhad and medio Ujjal and Abahani to increase the degree of attacks.
Farhad failed to beat Army custodian Monirul in a one-in-one situation in the 77th minute while Monirul gripped an Ighir header five minutes later.
Abahani finally found the match-decider in 84th minute from a penalty.