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Atshimene nets brace to send Akwa United six points clear in NPFL title race

Kano Pillars, Nasarawa United, Rivers United all lose on Matchday 34

Akwa United maintained a stranglehold on the top spot in the NPFL after their 3-0 Matchday 34 win over relegation-threatened Warri Wolves at the Godwill Akpabio Stadium. Red-hot forward Charles Atshimene opened the scoring for the Promise Keepers after only right minutes from the penalty spot before Ubong Friday added a second for the league leaders before halftime. Atshimene headed home from a corner before the hour mark for his 14th goal of the season as Akwa United recorded an important win in their quest for a first-ever NPFL title, sending them six points clear of second-place Nasarawa United.

Nasarawa United suffered a setback in their title pursuit at the hands of their neighbours Lobi Stars at the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi, losing 3-2 in an eventful matchday 34 clash. The Solid Miners took the lead through the league’s leading scorer Silas Nwankwo just three minutes into the game. Samuel Mathias equalised for Lobi Stars with a sumptuous free-kick before Nwankwo scored his 16th NPFL goal of the season in the 27th minute to restore his side’s advantage. Mathias scored only three minutes later to draw his side level before Austin Ogunye put Lobi Stars in front for the first time with what turned out to be the winner three minutes before halftime. Nasarawa United remain in second place on the NPFL table despite their loss.

Rangers soundly defeated title-hopefuls Kano Pillars 2-0 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu thanks to two first-half goals. Christian Nnaji headed home the opener after just five minutes before Esor Archibong added a second on the half-hour mark. Rangers finished the game with 10 men after goalkeeper Nana Bonsu was given his marching orders after 60 minutes. Pillars also finished with 10 men as Emmanuel Anyanwu was sent for an early shower in the 89th minute for a foul on Anthony Shimaga. Kano Pillars remain in third place on the NPFL log with four games left in the season.

Jigawa Golden Stars moved out of the NPFL relegation zone after a shock 2-1 victory over Rivers United at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna. Abdullahi Lala opened the scoring for the Golden Stars after just three minutes before Bamba Bakary equalised for Rivers United with a brilliant freekick after 45 minutes. Lala scored the match-winner in the 58th minute as Jigawa Golden Stars picked up three vital points that lifted them out of the relegation zone.

MFM picked up a convincing 3-1 victory over Plateau United at the Soccer Temple in Agege in their NPFL Matchday 34 encounter. Akanni Elijah scored twice to put the Church Boys 2-0 up before Ibrahim Buhari pulled one back for the Peace Boys after 71 minutes. Tunde Azeez scored the third for MFM FC, restoring their two-goal cushion in the 74th minute as they look to secure a top-half finish in this season’s NPFL.

Sunshine Stars slipped back into relegation trouble after a 0-0 draw with Katsina United at the Ondo State Sports Complex. The Akure Gunners are now one point from safety in the NPFL and need to pick up wins in order to avoid a drop into the NNL next season.

Abia Warriors defeated Heartland 2-1 at the Okigwe Township Stadium in their NPFL Matchday 34 Oriental derby. Paul Samson and Yakub Hammed scored to put the Umuahia Landlords 2-0 up before Chijioke Akuneto pulled one back for the Naze Millionaires. Abia Warriors’ win takes them three points clear of the relegation zone in the NPFL.

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