KATHMANDU, Dec 24: Skipper Anil Gurung achieved his first hat-trick of the league as Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) thumped Iceberg Madhyapur Youth Association 4-1 in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League on Monday.
With the win, MMC is two points behind leader Ranipokhar Corner Team (RCT) and one behind second-placed Three Star Club.
In the day´s earlier kick-off, Samsung Jawalakhel Youth Club and CMG Club Sankata shared points following a goalless stalemate at the Dasharath Stadim in Kathmandu.
MMC vs Madhyapur Youth Association. (Photo: Bikash Karki)
In the match that marked the completion or the eighth round, MMC maintained its unbeaten run in the league with its fifth win and climbed one spot to the third position. MMC has 18 points, one more than fourth-placed Machhindra. Madhyapur with seven points dropped one spot to the relegation zone as Jawalakhel progressed three spots to 11th with eight points. Sankata remained unchanged in the seventh place with 13 points.
Midfielder Shiva Shrestha put MMC ahead in the 21st minute with a quick low strike from the edge leaving Madhyapur custodian Bikesh Kutu clueless. It was a forgettable day for Kutu, who was adjudged the best goalkeeper during the Ncell Cup held three months ago, against MMC, one of the title contenders, on Monday.
Skipper Gurung doubled the tally in the 28th minute, netted his second goal four minutes into the second half and completed his hat-trick in the 84th to seal a comprehensive victory for his team. Gurung´s hat-trick, sixth in the league, also took his goals tally to five, four behind highest scorer Santosh Sahukhala of Three Star.
(Photo: Bikash Karki)
Veteran striker Nirajan Rayamajhi scored a consolation goal through penalty for Madhyapur in the 78th minute after MMC´s substitute goalie Brijesh Singh fouled Davis in the area.
In the 52nd minute, Sabindra Shrestha´s freekick from 35 yards rebounded off the bar while goalie Kutu denied Nirajan Malla´s powerful one-touch strike from the edge.
MMC dominated the match and piled up consistent pressure on the opponents. MMC found the target in all its three initial attempts. Madhyapur, on the other hand, could not make a single attempt on goal.
MMC coach Krishna Thapa said the arrival of defender Bikash Singh Chhetri, who made his debut in the current league, played a vital role in his team´s improved performance. "The team found its rhythm today and will give consistent performance in upcoming matches."
Madhyapur boss Upendra Man Singh opined that the two teams could not be compared. "MMC is a good side and the level of their players is far better than ours," said Singh. "I changed the team formation to 4-4-2 today as we have finished playing with most of the tough teams. Now we will play for victory and fulfill our aim of remaining in the top flight."
In the other match, Jawalakhel dominated the show and put Sankata under pressure. Pradeep Maharjan squandered a scoring chance in the 75th minute as he hit the wooden frame from the six-yard box. In the 82nd minute, Sankata goalie Ndoe Pierre Herve made a finger-tip save to deny Krishna Shakya´s shot.
In the 81st minute, Sankata´s African recruit Ongono Soumbou Samuel´s header rebounded off the bar in skipper Salyan Khadgi´s cross.
Earlier, Jawalakhel custodian Min Basnet was taken to hospital after he collided with Samuel in the 49th minute. African custodian Sanam Ferland came in as Basnet´s replacement.
Sankata coach Maheshwar Mulmi heavily criticized the match referee Nabindra Maharjan. He said that wrong decisions by the referees have put huge investment of clubs at risk. Mulmi´s counterpart Kishor KC of Jawalakhel said that his side failed to achieve the target of winning the match.
Saraswati coach KC gets one-match ban
All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) on Monday slapped a one-match touchline ban on Simrik Saraswati Club´s coach Dhruba Bahadur KC in the ongoing Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League for not attending the post-match conference. KC had skipped the post-match conference after his side´s 3-1 loss to Yeti Himalayan Sherpa Club on Sunday.
As per the tournament regulations, a coach who does not attend the post-match conference for the first time will be banned for one match. If the coach repeats it, ANFA can slap a three-match ban on him as per the regulations.
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