Defending champions Abahani staged a brilliant comeback, beating Saif SC 4-1 in an ill-tempered Bangladesh Premier League fixture at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Abahani, who came into the match on the back of a morale-shattering 4-0 defeat against Mohammedan and knew a slip-up might hand the title over to Bashundhara Kings, made the worst possible start, conceding the lead through a superbly-taken volley by Saif SC forward Denier Cordoba in the 37th minute.
But the Sky Blues got a lifeline in the 50th minute when Saif SC goalkeeper Saiful Islam brought down their striker Nabib Newaz Jibon inside the box, with Sunday Chizoba converting the spot-kick.
Minutes later, the referee awarded another spot-kick to Abahani, this time over an alleged foul on Abahani’s Saad Uddin. The Saif SC players protested while Abahani defender Masih Saighani elbowed one of Saif SC players, getting a shove back in return from Emery Bayisenge. Both Saighani and Bayisenghe were sent off before Jibon converted the spot-kick.
Sunday added a second in the 65th minute before Mamunul Islam made it 4-1 in the 80th minute. Saif SC players protested even after the match, with captain Jamal Bhuiyan earning a red card. The win lifted Abahani to 54 points from 22 matches, four behind Bashundhara Kings while Saif SC remained on 41 points from 21 matches.