Gurung treble sinks United Sikkim 5-2

- DEEPAK PARIYAR, Lekhnath (Pokhara)

Feb 26, 2019-

Anil Gurung struck a hat-trick to steer Three Star Club to semi-finals of the Aaha-Rara Gold Cup football tournament with a 5-2 hammering of United Sikkim Football Club at the Pokhara Stadium on Monday.

The veteran striker struck from the penalty spot to provide Three Star the lead in the 26th minute. Three Star were awarded the penalty after a Sikkim defender tripped Sushil Rai inside the area. The ball had bounced nicely for Rai after goalkeeper Urgen Sherpa blocked a corner from Sunil Bal.

Three Star doubled their lead five minutes after resumption thanks to an own goal from Sikkim defender Jigme Dorje Bhutia. In an attempt to clear Anil Gurung’s cross inside the area, Bhutia inadvertently stuck his own goalkeeper Sherpa. The ball rebounded back to Bhutia and back into the post. Despite taking a 2-0 lead, Three Star kept searching for more goals and almost added to their tally in the 53 minute. Sushil Rai supplied a pass inside the area where Gurung applied a powerful bicycle kick only to see the ball crash the woodwork.

Ajayi Martins finally struck in the 70th minute to make the score 3-0 as the forward cut past Mobin Rai and Jigme Dorje before scoring in one-on-one with goalkeeper Sherpa. Three Star earned another penalty in the 81st minute when Gurung was felled inside the area. Gurung picked himself up to convert from the shot. Gurung needed another four more minutes to complete his hat-trick. He capitalised on a beautiful pass from Martins to add more salts to the Sikkim wounds.

Sikkim’s best chance in the first half came in the 30th minute when a 20-yard shot from Chhiring Lepcha was denied by Three Star goalkeeper Alan Neupane. Mobin Rai also came close to scoring for Sikkim in the 40th minute but his header went whiskers away from the target. Sikkim capitalised on Three Star’s laidback approach late on to reply two goals in the dying moments of the match. Sonam Chhiring struck in the 89th minute before Lepcha added the second from the penalty spot three minute into the stoppage time. Sikkim were awarded the spot kick after Ananta Tamang handled the ball inside the area.

Sikkim coach MD Lepcha said his team lost confidence after conceding early goal. “We were already under pressure after trailing by one goal and we invited trouble for ourselves by conceding two needless penalties,” said the Sikkim coach questioning referee’s decision to award Three Star the first penalty.

Three Star coach Megh Raj KC said the scoreline did little justice to the competitive nature of the match. “It was evenly contested match but their players appeared to give up after conceding the first two goals,” said KC. Three Star are now just two wins away from clinching the fifth Aaha-Rara Gold Cup title.

Nepal Police Club will take on Dauphins Family of Cameroon in the last quarter-final match on Tuesday.

Published: 26-02-2019 11:05

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