Police closer to league title

KATHMANDU, July 8: Jumanu Rai scored twice as Nepal Police Club (NPC) came from behind to beat New Road Team (NRT) 3-1 in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League on Friday to strengthen its title bid. 

With the win, Police are six points above the second placed Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC). Police has 41 points from 15 games while MMC has 35 points from 14 games in the tournament with altogether 18 teams. 

Meanwhile, Yeti Airlines Himalayan Sherpa Club moved two spots up in the points table to the fourth after registering 4-2 victory over Nepal APF Club at the Dasharath Stadium. Himalayan Sherpa has 29 points from 15 games while APF is 12th in the league table with 15 points from 15 games. 

Likewise, Friends Club moved a spot above in the table to the eighth position defeating Bansbari 2-1 at the Halchowk Ground. Friends Club has 23 points from 15 games while Bansbari is 11th with 20 points from as many games.

In the late kick off at the Dasharath Stadium, Raghu Prajapati gave NRT an early lead against the leader. Prajapati converted penalty awarded to his team after NPC defender Suraj BK handled the ball inside the danger area in his attempts to clear Ashim Jung Karki´s shot.

However, leading goal scorer of the league Rai leveled the score for police from close range. Pradeep Baniya set up a scoring chance to Rai as he met cross from Yogesh Shrestha.

Baniya provided lead to Police in the very first minute of the second half. Baniya scored from the edge of the danger area with a powerful strike as NRT goalkeeper Raju Yogi slipped it from underarm.
Rai made it 3-1 in the 84th minute to seal the match. Rai scored on a solo effort from the danger area collecting a ball released by NPC goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa.
With the goal, Rai took his goals tally to 21 in the ongoing league and he is leading the tally.

"We were under pressure as we are in the title race. Bharat Khawas was also not available as he was suspended for double bookings in the tournament. However, we handled the pressure and Police is the only team in the league that can handle pressure," said NPC Coach Birat Krishna Shrestha.

"We could not handle pressure in the last minute of the first half and conceded silly goal in the first minute of the second half. And, we paid the price," said NRT Coach Raju Kaji Shakya. 

In the first match of the day, Deepak Rai scored twice for Himalayan Sherpa as the new sensation of ´A´ division defeated APF 4-2.

APF defender Nur Raj Kafle scored an own goal in the 19th minute of the match in his attempt to clear Jagjit Shrestha´s cross. Deepak Rai, then, doubled the tally beating APF custodian Samit Rajbhandari in the danger area. Rai found the ball in a back pass of APF defender Sudeep Shrestha in the 28th minute.

Rai made it 3-0 three minutes later. He scored his second in an unattended post as Rajbhandari had moved ahead of the post.

APF striker Ganesh Lawati converted a penalty in the 33rd minute after Sherpa´s goalie Rupak Shrestha brought down Niraj Shrestha inside the area in one-on-one encounter.

Sherpa´s Kigozi Ismail headed home an acute cross from Jagjit Shrestha in the 49th minute to make the score 4-1.

In the 62nd minute, Arjun Subba made it 4-2 through a header in a cross from Sudeep Sikhrakar.

"We are already safe from relegation zone and we can´t go to top eight. In this situation boys played a loose game," said APF Assistant Coach Janak Singh Tharu. 

"We capitalized almost every chance and utilized APF´s mistake," said Sherpa´s Coach Upendra Man Singh, who expects finishing the ongoing league on either the third or the fourth position. 

At the Halchowk Ground, Tanka Bahadur Syangten and Ajad Pradhan scored in the ninth and 26th minutes for Friends Club to beat Bansbari 2-1. Binod Lama scored in the 66th minute to give Bansbari a hope of comeback but the team could not level the score.

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