Rangers’ George nets brace to sink Rivers United
Last season, Rivers United and Enugu Rangers went toe to toe at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu in what was dubbed ‘the title decider’.
The ‘Flying Antelopes’ and the ‘Pride of Rivers’ were, at that stage of the season, locked in a neck and neck battle for the NPFL diadem and many expected a game for the ages.
It turned out to be just that but wasn’t the close contest many had predicted.
Rangers were peerless on the day and completely ripped Rivers United to pieces in a one-sided 4-0 victory.
This season, the fortunes of the sides couldn’t have be more dramatically different as prior to kick off, the phrase, ‘relegation Dogfight’ was mentioned in more than a few quarters before the two sides clashed on Sunday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.
Rangers started with intent, pinning back the Port Harcourt-based side to their half and causing panic in their box via several dangerous set pieces delivered by left back, Ugwu Uwadiegwu.
Osas Okoro almost put the hosts in front with a stunning long range effort which Femi Thomas did well to push away for a corner.
Reprieve was to come for United as the heavens opened, rendering the pitch unplayable in a matter of minutes.
The referee was left with no option but to call off the game.
Upon resumption on Monday morning, Rangers took the game by the scruff of the neck and were soon in front following a sumptuous team move that completely carved the Rivers United defence open.
Tope Olusesi provided the assist from the flowing move with Ifeanyi George merely required to tap into an unguarded net from close range.
Rangers continued to dominate and won a penalty soon after the referee adjudged that Ifeanyi Nweke had handled in the box.
George stepped up and converted in nerveless fashion as he sent Femi Thomas, the Rivers United goalkeeper, the wrong way much to the delight of the home faithful.
United were reeling and could have conceded a third had Godwin Aguda not lost his footing at the opportune moment with the visitors’ defence in sixes and sevens.
Rivers United’s technical manager, Stanley Eguma seemed to have delivered a rousing team talk as United looked a completely different side after the restart.
They pushed the champions back more into their half in the second period and deservedly pulled a goal back in the 74th minute.
Nweke was brilliant in the build-up as he intercepted a dangerous Osas Okoro pass into the United half before playing a brilliant pass to Lukman Mohammed.
Mohammed raced all of 40 yards before passing deftly to the overlapping Nweke who coolly picked out Ogbugh with an inch-perfect low cross that the attacker stabbed home from close range.
It was Ogbugh’s third goal in as many matches in the NPFL and underlines his status as one of the division’s most potent marksman.
United pushed for a late leveller, throwing more bodies upfront but Rangers defended spiritedly to close out the win.
Head coach of Rangers, Sylvanus Okpala and his United counterpart, Eguma spoke to our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng shortly after the entertaining contest (audio files have been attached).
Rivers United is now in 16th place on the log with 41 points from 31 matches while Rangers climbed to 13th with 42 points from 32 matches.
Enugu Rangers: Seidu Mutawakilu, Osas Okoro, Ugwu Uwadiegwu, Charles Henlong, Okey Odita, Orji Kalu, Ifeanyi George Morris Chibem 78′) Bright Cilas, Tope Olusesi (Bobby Clement 78′) Chiamaka Madu and Godwin Aguda.
Substitutes not Used: Bassey Akpan, Chibuzor Madu, Chizoba Amaefule
Rivers United: Femi Thomas, Ifeanyi Nweke, Gabriel Olalekan, Douhadji Joseph (Semiu Liadi 24′), Ali Chiwendu, Emeka Atuloma, Yusuf Jaiyeola (Ifeanyi Okoye 76′) Esosa Igbinoba, Lukman Mohammed Emeka Ogbugh, and Onoriode Odah (Israel Daniel 52′)
Substitutes not Used: Sunday Rotimi, Zoumana Doumbia, Kingsley Patrick, and Christian Weli
Yellow cards: Rivers United: Lukman Mohammed 67′, Enugu Rangers: Osas Okoro 91′.
Goals: Enugu Rangers: Ifeanyi George 26′ 39’, Rivers United: Ifeanyi Nweke 74′
Photo credit: LMC