Tuesday, February 27

10-man Lalitpur Oust Pokhara To Confirm Final Against Dhangadhi

Sandesh Sigdel, Kathmandu

Down to ten men for almost ninety minutes in the match, Lalitpur City FC have defeated table toppers Pokhara Thunders 2-1 in extra time to book the final bout against Dhangadhi FC on Saturday.

Lalitpur, who were reduced to ten men after midfielder Nikhil Kadam was sent off for two yellows in the 34th minute, had to play an equivalent time of one whole match with a deficit of one man.

Despite having the disadvantage, Lalitpur managed to find the back of the net twice while also conceding in between.

Lalitpur’s regular center-back Omolaja Kareem was back in the XI after serving a one-match suspension. And it was the Lakheys who were at it from the very start. Despite keeping more of the ball early on, Lalitpur were unable to create clear-cut chances of scoring. They were further derailed after Nikhil was sent off. 

However, Lalitpur, who were playing less than 48 hours since the completion of their win against Kathmandu RayZrs in the eliminator, despite being a man down, found the back of the net towards the end of the first half. Papa Kebe’s long ball from his own half found Imoh Ezekiel on a run behind Pokhara’s backline. Ezekiel outpaced the Pokhara center backs and slotted the ball past Yves Priso for a lead. 

Pokhara, with a man advantage, were the ones troubling Lalitpur at the start of the second half. But they were not able to penetrate the Lalitpur backline and create chances inside the box. Their best chances at the start of the second half- all came from outside the box. However, in the 71st minute, they found a way past the Lalitpur backline. Joe Aidoo’s floating delivery was met by Stephan Annor’s header, bringing the scoreline to 1-1. 

Pokhara were unable to get past the Lakheys” backline in the ninety minutes and had to play a second successive extra time. And it was the Lakheys who went in front again. In the 99th minute, Kareem’s free-kick was met by Ananta Tamang, whose header across the goal for his teammate to pounce one wasn’t cleared by Pokhara and in came a 17-year-old Kushal Deuba to net his first senior goal. 

The biggest chance after conceding the second fell for Pokhara’s center-back Franklin Talla in the 105th minute when he found himself in an unusual situation inside Lalitpur’s box but he skied his effort. Pokhara threw their kitchen sink at it, with even Priso lining up a free kick in the 116th minute but in vain. 

Despite finishing first on the table and having two chances of making the final, Pokhara have been eliminated. Lalitpur, on the other hand, defeated Kathmandu and Pokhara in successive matches to book their encounter against Dhangadhi in the final on Saturday. Dhangadhi defeated Pokhara 4-3 on penalties in the first qualifier to book their place in the final. 

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