Sporting Lagos defeated Niger Tornadoes in a hard-fought matchday 5 of the 2023/24 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) season on Sunday at their home field.
At the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, a contentious offside call that changed the course of the game in the closing moments helped Sporting upset Tornadoes 2-1.
The host team, eager to go back to winning ways after two disappointing performances, was looking forward to the highly anticipated matchup in week five.
It was a game of two halves, with Sporting controlling the first and the visitors scaring the Noisy Lagosians in the second half.
Sporting started the strongest and quickly took the lead when fan favourite, Jonathan Alukwu, reacted quickest to tuck home from close range to give the host the lead in the 30th minute.
Veteran striker, Junior Lokosa, doubled their advantage just before the break to give Sporting what looked a comfortable 2-0 lead at half time.
After the break, however, the match took a dramatic turn as the Ikom Allah came out blazing hot in search of an elusive goal.
The goal finally came through super-sub Yahuza Bala, who evaded a parked defense to half the deficit in the 67th minute.
Re-energised by that goal, the visitors pushed for an equaliser which finally came or so they thought, in the 80th minute through that man again, Bala.
A brilliant play from Tornadoes set the forward free on goal and with just Christian Nwoke at his mercy, Bala kept his calm to loop the goalkeeper to send the away bench into a frenzy.
However, their joy was short-lived when the assistant referee raised his flag for an offside, and the goal was chalked off.
Sporting Lagos held on and when the final blew, it was a relief for coach Paul, his players and fans while Niger Tornadoes were in despair.
The controversial offside decision became the key talking point from the game for fans and pundits alike, who are debating the fairness and impact on the final result.
Sporting Lagos return to winning ways after two winless matches, with the Noisy Lagosians now seventh on the log while Niger are five spots behind in 12th.
Lobi Stars’ unbeaten run in the ongoing Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) was brought to a halt yesterday after they suffered a slim 0-1 loss at Rivers United in the week 5 match played at the Adokiye Amasiemaka Stadium in Port-Harcourt.
Before yesterday’s match, the ‘Pride of Benue’ as Lobi Stars are called had won two and draw two matches to remain unbeaten in the 2023/2024 season.
They had won at home against Sunshine Stars and Abia Warriors at their adopted home ground in Lafia and drawn away at Heartland and Katsina United.
However, Rivers United youngster, Alex Oyowah, scored the only goal of the match in the 42nd minute to destroy Lobi Stars enviable record.
In another week match played on Sunday, Katsina United fought back from an early goal to beat Sunshine Stars 3-2 at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium.
In-form striker Michael Olulasi shocked the home fans with the opening goal in the 18th minute, Michael Okoro Ibe drew Katsina United level in the 45th minute but Olulasi restored the visitors’ lead in the second minute of first half added time.
On resumption, Striker Bello Lukman emerged as the hero for the ‘Chanji boys’ as he struck twice in the 49th and 62nd minute to hand his side the maximum points.
Elsewhere, it was a bad day for Doma United as they surrendered an early lead to lose 1-3 to 3SC in Ibadan. Nelson Abiam gave the ‘Savannah Tigers’ the lead in the 9th minute but the ‘Oluyole Warriors’ equalised from the spot in the 45th minute and scored two more goals in the 60th minute and second minute of second half added minutes to move to second position on the table.
In Yenagoa, Bayelsa United also rallied back to a 2-1 win over Kwara United after Robert Mizo scored a brace to erase Ayanrinade’s opening goal in the 9th minute.
And Abia Warriors squeezed past their neighbours, Heartland as they won 1-0 in the ‘Oriental derby’ played at the Umuahia Township Stadium.