Sahukhala brace keeps MMC title hopes alive

KATHMANDU, July 9: Santosh Sahukhala scored twice for Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club´s (MMC) 2-0 win over Bauddha FC on Saturday which kept its title hopes alive in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League Football.

Playing equal 15 matches, second placed MMC narrowed its gap to three points against the leader Nepal Police Club. However, MMC´s title chance largely depends on Police´s next match against Three Star. If Police wins against the Patan-based club, the title race will almost be over before it taking on MMC in the last match on Sunday. Bauddha dropped a spot below to 11th with 20 points. 

Sahukhala opened the scoring for MMC in the 35th minute and ensured the victory four minutes from time with his 16th goal of the league, five behind highest scorer Jumanu Rai of Police. Sahukhala is the second highest league scorer.

Taking advantage of inexperienced Bauddha goalie Ranjit Shrestha who came outside the box to collect ball despite the presence of two defenders, Sahukhala cleverly hit the ball in an unattended post to put the team in charge. 

Sahukhala doubled tally in the 86th minute when his feeble shot in one-on-one with custodian Shrestha entered the net hitting the pole. 

"MMC scored both the goals taking advantage of goalie´s mistake," Bauddha coach Kiran Shrestha said adding, "Now, we are almost out of the top eight race."

MMC dominated the show in first-half and frequently took the ball to the danger zone. MMC squandered three scoring opportunities before the interval. Skipper Tashi Tsering header went above the bar in the early moments while Nirajan Khadka and Bijay Rai failed to connect a brilliant pass of Sujal Shrestha just ahead of the goalline. Similarly, Bijay Gurung´s powerful 25-yard shot was denied by the goalie. 

Bauddha showed some resistance during the middle of the second-half and created a few chances, but all in vain. Khum Gurung twice squandered scoring chances while Som Thapa´s header in Gurung´s cross from ahead of the goalline sailed above the bar. 

MMC´s assistant coach Devendra Jung Shahi said his side still has some chances. "We played better than last match," Shahi said.

Sahukhala misses next match
MMC´s vital forward Santosh Sahukhala will miss upcoming match against Brigade Boys Club on Wednesday after he was booked second yellow card of the league in the 22nd minute. Earlier, he was booked with yellow card in MMC´s third match against Armed Police Force in the 58th minute. On Saturday, MMC had missed forward Anil Gurung as he was shown second yellow card in previous match against New Road Team.

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