KATHMANDU, June 12: A brace from Nirajan Khadka ended the undefeated run of Yeti Airlines Himalayan Sherpa Club in its 10th league match on Sunday as Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) fought back to register a 2-1 victory over the former in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League at the Dasharath Stadium.
With the win, MMC that now has 25 points closed the gap on leader Nepal Police Club to one point after the completion of 10th round matches. MMC has won eight matches, lost one and played a draw in one. Sherpa, which has won five, drawn four and lost one match, remained unchanged in the seventh spot with 19 points.
Earlier, Amrit Basnet and Santosh Nepali scored one each in either half for Nepal Army Club to beat minnows United Youth Club 2-0 at the same venue. With the win, Army moved a step ahead in the points table to ninth spot pushing behind Friends to 10th position. United, still looking for its first victory, is second from the bottom with only one point.
At the Halchowk ground, Sahabir Chaudhary hit the lone goal in his debut match for Saraswoti as the newly-promoted side sealed a 1-0 victory over Machhindra Club. Chaudhary scored 12 minutes from time to stun Machhindra, which had finished sixth in the previous edition of the league but is currently going through a bad time.
The result also pulled Saraswoti out of the relegation zone, from 15th to 13th position, with eight points while Machhindra dropped one spot to remain in the relegation zone. Machhindra is in the 15th place with six points.
At the Dasharath Stadium, Deepak Rai put Sherpa ahead in the sixth minute. However, Sherpa´s joy could last for long as MMC hit back the equalizer in the 19th minute through Nirajan Khadka, who later doubled the scoring in the 39th minute to seal the win for his team.
Rai chipped over MMC custodian Bishal Shrestha to score from the right flank in a pass of Saroj Dahal when Shrestha was not in a proper position. But Khadka cancelled the lead when he gave a finishing touch to Anil Gurung´s pass from the six-yard box set up by skipper Tashi Tsering. He again found the back of the net 20 minutes later when he chipped over goalie Rupak Shrestha again in a header pass from Gurung.
MMC created a couple of attractive moves in the second half but Santosh Sahukhala squandered both the opportunities. HSC, on the other hand, failed to make even a single attempt.
“The boys put great effort with a winning mentality and played in Korean style,” MMC´s Korean coach Lee Tae-Ho said at the post match conference. Lee considers Police a strong title contender and a tough opponent.
Earlier, Amrit Basnet scored in the 32nd minute for Army from the box in a pass of Tanka Basnet. Tanka made a brilliant display sprinting with the ball a long way before passing it to Amrit. For the second goal, Santosh Nepali made a powerful semi-volley strike from the arch of the box after controlling a pass from Hari Mahato.
Meanwhile, in-form striker of Yeti Airlines Himalayan Sherpa Club Jagjeet Shrestha will be out of action for at least two weeks as he was injured in a bike accident at Bauddha while on his way to the Dasharath Stadium on Sunday.
This is yet another blow for Sherpa after the departure of Tanzanian midfielder Castory D Mumbara and Ugandan striker Allen Oryek back to their countries. Oryek could not play the full 90 minutes in even a single match as he sustained knee injury a week before the league started. Likewise, Mumbara returned home after his mother expired.
“Today (Sunday) was a bad day for the team as Shrestha, a vital member of the squad, had a motorbike accident and we had to cut his name from the starting line-up. The news has left every member of the team frustrated," Sherpa coach Upendraman Singh said during the post match conference.
“Shrestha´s motorbike was hit by another motorbike. The motorcyclist fled after the incident. Shrestha sustained injuries to his left leg and had four stitches. Doctors have advised him to take rest for at least two weeks,” Singh added.