Friends deal massive blow to Three Star's title charge

Published On: January 13, 2020 11:54 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 13: Three Star Club faced a massive blow to its title charge after Friends Club registered its first win of the season defeating the Lalitpur-based club 1-0 in the ongoing Martyr’s Memorial A-Division League in Kathmandu on Sunday. 

After facing a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the departmental team Tribhuvan Army Club in the fourth round of the league, Three Star is trailing the leader Machhindra Club by three points after the end of the sixth round of matches. It will drop to fifth if the other departmental team Nepal Police Club wins its match on Monday. 

In the other game of the day, Saraswati Youth Club registered its first point of the season as it held Brigade Boys Club to a 0-0 draw. In the first match of the day, a first half goal from Wagner De Carmo gave the Brazilian coach Marcus Dantas his first win of the campaign. 

Both the teams got their share of chances in the early period of the first half, but a fine performance from both set of the keepers kept out the goal. However, Friends got the better of Three Star from the early part of the game with swift flow of football and more chances to score. 

Felipe De Sauza got a chance to score in just the sixth minute of the match, but his free-kick was off target, while his shot from inside the box was brilliantly saved by Three Star keeper Guillaume Yves Priso Njanga three minutes later. Friends dominated the early part of the game and was rewarded with a goal as Carmo heading down a free-kick in the 13rd minute, which proved to be the decisive goal in the game.  

Three Star started to switch its football from cautious to attacking as it got frequent chances, but failed to convert them. It prioritized long balls from the defenders, but the connection was not right and Friends was able to clear the ball to safety easily. 

Friends keeper Dev Limbu was terrific throughout the game with his shot-stopping tactics as he first made a vital save to deny Three Star, then saw the rebound go wide in the 22nd minute. However, Friends was composed on the ball and created chances despite the constant passive threat from Three Star. Felipe Sauza gave a wonderful cross to Carmo inside the box, but the Brazilian forward headed the ball just wide in the 33rd minute.

There was a nine-minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half after the Friends head coach Dantas and team coach Rabin Benjankar were shown yellow cards for disciplinary issues in the 43rd and the 39th minutes respectively. 

Three Star pressurized Friends during the time, but a good defensive spell cleared the danger. Three Star sent balls inside the box, but Friends made good clearances. Friends got a chance of its own in the ninth minute of the stoppage time as a shot from Carmo was saved by Three Star keeper Njanga.  The winning team created nearly as much chances in the second half as well. Sauza had a chance to double its lead in the 48th minute, but his shot was saved by Njanga. 

Friends had another chance to add on to its dangerous lead as Carmos’ shot in the 67th minute was pushed away for a corner by Njanga again. Three Star then paced up for the last 20 minutes of the match as a shot from close range went out after hitting the crossbar in the 70th minute. Three Star center back Ananta Tamang had a chance to equalize by scoring his third goal of the season, but his shot was saved by keeper Limbu in the fifth minute of the added time. 

It got other chances from set pieces, but was not able to equalize in the game. After throwing a multiple of chances to score, Three Star was left red-faced with another defeat and a mountain to climb. With the result, Three Star stays in the fourth place with 10 points after three wins, one draw and two losses. It can go further down if Police beats NRT on Monday and will trail the other departmental team Tribhuvan Army Club by five points, if Army beats Sankata Club on Tuesday. Likewise, Friends is in the 11th place with a win, two draws and three losses and has five points. 
In the other game of the day, both Brigade and Saraswati got enough chances to score, but threw them away after poor finishing in the final third. 

With the result, Brigade is in the eighth place with seven points via two wins, a draw and three losses, while Saraswati is in the bottom of the table with a point, but is still winless. On Monday, Police will face NRT in the first match of the day, followed by a game between Chyasal Youth Club and the other departmental team Armed Police Force (APF) Club with both the teams hungry to get back to winning ways.  

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