Yhuza, Sasere strike late to tame gutsy River United
Sunshine Stars scored two late goals to claim a 2-0 win over a determined Rivers United FC in a fiercely-contested Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) game decided in Akure on Wednesday.
Second half substitute, Bala Yahuza connected with Franklin Sasere’s flick on in the United box past a helpless Sunday Rotimi who barely moved a muscle as the acrobatic effort flew into the top corner with just 14 minutes remaining.
Yahuza turned provider in the 84th minute, crossing with inch-perfect precision from the right with a grateful Sasere bundling home from close range as the hosts made sure of the points.
Things could have however been so different as visitors started the brighter of the two sides and created the first real clear cut opportunity.
Shambolic defending by Sunshine Stars gave United’s Ochowechi ‘Oche’ Salefu and opportunity to claim an early goal but his brilliant long range effort was spectacularly pushed away for a corner by the Sunshine Stars goalkeeper, Henry Ayodele.
The Stars then took over, creating a plethora of chances which individuals at the tip of the spear failed to convert on various occasions.
They (Sunshine Stars) had the ball in the United net in first half stoppage time but the referee ruled out the strike as he had sounded his whistle shortly before Sasere’s header flew in off the post with a United defender injured in the box.
Sunshine Stars continued to force the issue in a second half that ebbed and flowed and soon after had the ball in the Rivers United net.
The goal was correctly chalked off as the Sunshine Stars forward, Yahuza, who had made the final touch, connected with his hand.
He should have been booked for the deliberate action but the referee took a lenient view of the situation.
The pressure was relentless and Yahuza eventually broke the deadlock with a fine scissor kick, executed to perfection before Sasere made the points safe with a close range finish, six minutes from time.
The Rivers United technical manager, Stanley Eguma was understandably crestfallen afterwards as he discussed his side’s performance with our official website, www.riversunitedfc.com.ng. (audio file attached)
We also spoke to the Sunshine Stars coach, Duke Udi afterwards (audio file also attached) as he praised his side as well as vanquished opposition for putting up an aesthetic spectacle.
Rivers United dropped to 14th following the reverse while Sunshine Stars climbed to fifth with seven points from their opening four games.
United will next face Enyimba on Sunday at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt as the NPFL enters match day five.
Sunshine Stars: Henry Ayodele, Franklin Sasere, Sunday Abe, Abiodun Joseph, Sikiru Alimi (Yahuza Bala 65’), Kehinde Adedipe, Nojeem Raji, Adebayo Adigun, Alaba Adeniyi (Seun Olulayo 57’) and Omotayo Adebogun (Sunday Emmanuel 63’).
Substitutes not used: David Ariyo, Niyi Adekunle, Anthony Omaka and Charles Okoro.
Rivers United: Sunday Rotimi, Markson Ojobo, Festus Austine, Gabriel Olalekan, Elum Sochima (Ali Chiwendu 89′), Rolland Koffi (Israel Daniel 72’), Sunday Afolabi, Bamba Bakari, Guy Kuemian (Samuel Akinbinu 66′), and Oche Ochowechi.
Substitutes not Used: Robert Cole, Ikeleji Bello, Ayo Asekunuwo and Eneji Otekpa. Goals Yahuza Bala 76′ and Franklin Sasere 84.’
Yellow card: Kofi Rolland (44’)
Red card: nil
Man of the match: Bala Yahuza (Sunshine Stars).