It was a domineering performance for the coach Salisu Yusuf tutored side, Rangers International F.C as the ‘Flying Antelopes’ earned its third straight win in the NPFL with a 3-1 defeat of neighbors, Abia Warriors F.C in an ‘Oriental Derby’.
The match day 16 encounter saw the Enugu Landlords take the fight to the visitors as soon as referee Iyorha Ephraim sounded his whistle to signal the start of hostilities with the trio of Chiamaka Madu, Ifeanyi George and Ibrahim Olawoyin leading the assault as the coach made two changes to the M.D 15 squad that earned a win on the road in Warri.
Fans inside the main bowl of Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium that included two traditional rulers did not have to wait long in the game to celebrate its first goal as a dashing dribbling run from Chiamaka Madu saw him glide through a sea of tackling legs and challenges to fire a shot inside the box that was beaten out by goalkeeper, Charles Tambe for vintage positioned, Ibrahim Olawoyin to tap into an empty net on seven minutes.
Stung as they were, the coach Emmanuel Deutsch tutored side took the game to the host, with bulky attacker, Oghenetega Ebetomame and Yakub Hammed causing the Rangers backline some troubles and in a rear moment of loss of concentration, Bello Lukman was left unmarked and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands to draw the visitors level on 10 minutes to send the travelling fans and bench into wild celebrations.
Both sides became cautious in the next ten minutes not wanting to give anything away cheaply but the host dug into its reserve to continue to dominate proceedings and would have been ahead in several occasions but for the eagle-eyed defensive network put up by the Austin Obaroakpo led line.
On 38th minute, Tambe had to be at his best to stop an Obaroakpo deflected shot from resting in his net for what would have been an own goal after Rangers left-back, Emmanuel Nwokeji let fly a shot but three minutes later, hard-working, Ifeanyi George connected with the head an inch perfect cross from Nwokeji to restore Rangers’ lead on 41 minutes.
The visitors returned after the break with much urgency and could have leveled up on 52 minutes but was denied by Nana Bonsu while Chiamaka Madu and Kehinde Adedipe saw their efforts miss target on 55 and 60 minutes.
Ifeanyi George grabbed his brace in the match on 70 minutes as he ran onto an Ibrahim Olawoyin’ defense splitting pass to fire an unstoppable shot past Tambe for Rangers third goal of the day before he was pulled out five minutes later for Ivorian import, Pascal Seka.
On the stroke of ninety minutes, the visitors thought they have further reduced the deficit but Lukman’ effort came off the cross bar while a rear counter-attack move presented Pascal Seka an opportunity to punish the visitors further but he chose to play to the gallery to the relief of the Abia Warriors bench in added on time of the match.