Neupane heroics send Three Star into semis

- ARJUN RAJBANSHI, Birtamode

Mar 7, 2019-

Goalkeeper Alan Neupane saved two penalties for Three Star as the Lalitpur-based outfits overcame Nepal Police Club (NPC) 3-0 in the tiebreaker to secure a semi-final berth in the Jhapa Gold Cup football tournament at the Domalal Stadium in Birtamode on Wednesday.

The fate of the winners was decided from the spot after regulation period was locked at 0-0 draw. In the tiebreaker, Three Star’s Bijay Dhimal and Buddha Chemjong converted their first two shots while NPC’s Ajit Bhandari and skipper Bharat Shah were both denied by Neupane. Three Star skipper Bikram Lama who stepped in to take the third shot from denied by NPC custodian Satrudhan Chaudhary and Rabi Paswan shot above the bar for the departmental team. Rupesh KC converted the fourth shot for Three Star sealing victory for Three Star. Three Star custodian Alan Neupane was adjudged the man-of-the-match for his valiant saves and won purse of Rs 15,000.  

Three Star will meet hosts Jhapa XI, the runners up of all previous three editions, in the semi-final on Friday.

Earlier both the teams created some beautiful chances but poor finishing led them down. NPC could have scored in the very first minute as Paswan missed the target by whiskers at the unguarded post in a situation where goalkeeper Neupane was completely out of his position. In the fourth minute NPC skipper Shah’s freekick went off target.

Three Star came closer to scoring in the 28th minute only for the former Nepali international Anil Gurung firing off target after dispossessing the ball from NPC custodian Chaudhary. Three minutes later NPC skipper Shah’s header sailed inches wide in a Nir Kumar Rai freekick. In the 43rd Buddha Chemjong missed the target from a close range.  Ten minutes into second half, NPC skipper Shah’s close range scorcher missed the target by inches while NPC survived another scare in the 59th minute as the departmental team’s defender cleared Sushil Rai’s goal-bound strike. In the 67th minute NPC goalkeeper Chaudhary denied Jeevan Gurung while Paswan’s powerful shot sailed off target in the 78th for NPC.

Rupandehi XI will take on Dauphins Family of Cameroon in the last quarter-final match on Thursday.

Published: 07-03-2019 12:12

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