KATHMANDU, June 18: A brace from Nirajan Khadka steered Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyagdi Club (MMC) to an impressive 4-0 haul over Ranipokhari Corner Team (RCT) on Saturday in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League Football Tournament at the Halchowk ground. The victory kept MMC neck to neck with leader Nepal Police Club.
After playing equal 12 matches as that of the departmental rival, MMC has registered 10 wins, a draw and a defeat to accumulate 31 points, one behind Police. RCT which saw third defeat in a row remained steady in the sixth position with 20 points.
Earlier, in the match among relegation battlers, Koilapani Polestar of Nawalparasi, the only team from outside the capital once again failed to materialize its dream of registering its first victory when it conceded a last gasp equalizer to settle for a 1-1 draw against United Youth Club. In its last match as well, Koilapani had conceded in the 90th minute against Brigade Boys Club to settle for 1-1 draw.
The result left both United and Koilapani unchanged at the last and second last position with two and three points respectively.
Khadka, who had scored vital two goals against Himalayan Sherpa in its 2-1 win last Sunday, netted in the 33rd and 72nd minute after Sujal Shrestha had put the team ahead in the 15th minute. Substitute Bijay Gurung sealed the victory in the 90th minute.
“The boys just stood at the ground during first half and MMC saw all its techniques examined successful,” RCT coach Madhu Karki said adding, “The boys might have got nervous.”
MMC, coming up without its regular striker Santosh Sahukhala for the first time in its starting line-up of the league match, outplayed RCT from the beginning and took lead in the early moment of first half when unmarked Shrestha´s powerful shot found the back of the net. Similarly, Khadka netted the other when he made an unstoppable header in a long cross of Shrestha to double the tally before interval.
RCT came up with an improved show after the interval but could not make more than one attack on target. In the 49th minute, MMC goalie Bishal Shrestha made a heroic save to deny an acrobatic shot of Amar Dangol.
Despite RCT´s resistance, Khadka found his second goal in the 72nd minute when he connected a long cross of Anil Gurung in box to score the third goal for the team. Similalrly, Bijay Gurung, a 61st minute replacement of debutant Korean Hyeog Jin Kwon, sealed the victory in the 90th minute when he gave a finishing touch toward an open net from box in pass of Anil.
“The boys played as per the match strategy and made clean finishing,” MMC´s Korean coach Lee Tae-Ho said adding that he had not expected such finishing from his players. Regarding Sahukhala´s exclusion from the starting line up, who came in the field as a 36th minute replacement of Shiva Shrestha, the Korean said he wanted a better performance from the Sahukhala and he was also booked with yellow card. “Sahukhala doesn´t use brain like Anil,” Tae-Ho said.
Earlier, Koilapani despite taking 81st minute lead through penalty again turned out to be unlucky when it conceded equalizer in the second last minute of the stoppage time. Jangu Sherpa had given the lead to Koilapani through a spotkick after he was taken down by Sabin Nayava in the box. But debutant Kenyan recruit Samuel Oumachiero got back the equalizer when he met a ball punched by goalie Kishor Thapa who was yet to get back to his position.