In a thrilling encounter at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Rivers United reclaimed the top spot in the Nigeria Premier League Super Six playoff table with a 2-1 victory against Bendel Insurance. The title holders also ended Bendel Insurance’s 21-game unbeaten streak in the NPL.
The match started with both teams struggling in the hot weather and unable to create any clear-cut chances. However, reliable forward Morice Chukwu gave Rivers United the lead at the stroke of halftime. Chukwu slotted the ball home after Insurance defenders failed to clear the ball following a corner kick.
In the second half, both teams fought hard to score, but it was substitute Joseph Onoja who added the second goal for Rivers United a minute before stoppage time after he was set up by Ukeme Williams. Bendel Insurance reduced the deficit deep into stoppage time through Divine Nwachukwu, making it his third goal in the competition.
Rivers United top the standings with eight points from four games, while Bendel Insurance is in second place with six points. The Port Harcourt club will take on Enyimba in their final game of the playoffs on Sunday, while Bendel Insurance will be up against Remo Stars.
Speaking after the match, Rivers United coach Stanley Eguma said, “It was a tough game, and I am happy we came out victorious. We knew that Bendel Insurance would be a tough opponent, and we prepared well for them. I am proud of my players and their performance today.”
Meanwhile, Bendel Insurance coach Baldwin Bazuaye said, “We knew that Rivers United would be a tough opponent, but we came here to win. Unfortunately, we lost, but we will bounce back. We still have one more game to play, and we will do our best to win.”
The victory for Rivers United puts them in a good position to win the Nigeria Premier League Super Six playoff and qualify for the CAF Champions League. With the experience and quality of their players, they will be a tough team to beat in the final game of the playoffs.