Newcomers Bashundhara Kings survived a scare to take solo lead in the Bangladesh Premier League with a hard-fought 3-2 win over a spirited Arambagh KS at the Sheikh Kamal Stadium in Nilphamari yesterday.
Big-spenders Bashundhara now have 19 points from seven matches, one more than six-time champions Abahani, who however played a match more than the Independence Cup championship. Arambagh, on the other hand, stayed in fifth position with 12 points.
After being held to a goalless draw by Team BJMC in Noakhali in their previous match, Bashundhara looked a bit nervous against giant-killers Arambagh on their home soil as the charges of Oscar Bruzon were forced to make mistakes against the charges of Maruful Haque charges. Arambagh were unlucky not to secure at least one point, thanks a couple of good saves from Bashundhara goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico and an Arambagh effort that came off the post in the latter part of the game.
Arambagh, who went on to take on title contenders Bashundhara on the back of a win over NoFel SC, put huge pressure and earned the lead in the 23rd minute, with promising winger Arifur Rahman tapping in a well-judged cross from Chinedu Mathew.
But Arambagh were able to hold on to the lead for only two minutes as Nigerian defender Kingsley Nkurumeh fired put the ball into his own net while attempting to clear a free-kick from Costa Rican Daniel Colindres in the 25th minute.
After scoring a gifted goal, Bashundhara came out with their true colour and scored two goals in the span of nine minutes. On-form striker Matin Mia did not hesitate to provide the lead to Bashundhara when Arambagh defender Mohammad Rocky mistakenly deposited the ball to his feet. The young forward darted into the box to drive a low shot past the Arambagh goalkeeper in the 34th minute.
Then fit-again Mohammad Ibrahim whipped in a good cross from the left flank and Brazilian Marcos Vinicius rose high to head Bashundhara to a 3-1 lead two minutes before the break.
After resumption, Arambagh gave a run for the money to their superior opponents and reduced the margin eight minutes into the second half. Veteran winger Zahid Hossain's free-kick was headed home by Nigerian defender Kingsley Nkuremeh, with a deflection from Bashundhara forward Bakhtiyar Duyshobekov.
In latter part of the match, Arambagh captain Rabiul Hasan had two free-kicks from outside the box and one of those came off the post while the other narrowly missed the target in stoppage time.
Away at Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni Stadium, hosts Muktijoddha Sangsad handed a 2-0 defeat to visiting Team BJMC to leapfrog to seventh position with third win in seven matches, leaving winless BJMC second from bottom with three draws in eight matches.
Mehedi Hasan and Sujan Biswas scored in the second half as the All Reds moved to 10 points from seven matches while winless team BJMC have only three points.