Champions-elect, Rivers United forward, Chijioke Akuneto netted twice to open a two goals gap in the race for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)2021/22 Golden Boot.
It was the strikers 18th goal of the season with his nearest contenders on 16 goals.
But his goals couldn’t save Rivers United from defeat as Shooting Stars of Ibadan won the encounter 3-2 to ease their relegation worries.
A six-minute spell in the game produced three goals as Emmanuel Lucky and Opeoluwa Olufemi both scored for Shooting Stars in the 20th and 25th minute respectively before Chijioke Akuneto – with his 17th goal of the season pulled one back for Rivers United.
Moses Omoduemuke gave Shooting a two-goal advantage before Akuneto scored again to close the game at 3-2 with his 18th of the season which has put him in a good stead for the top scorers gong with a game left of the season.
Remo Stars set themselves in pole position for third place and a continental slot by defeating Sunshine Stars 1-0 in Akure.
Dayo Ojo’s rasping effort in the 58th minute ensured that Remo grabbed the points despite a Sunshine Stars late offensive.
Gombe United were 1-0 winners over visiting Rangers International who knew if their continental hopes were to stay alive, they had to get points in Gombe – that didn’t happen.
Flying Eagles star Ibrahim Yahaya set the Pantami Stadium alight with a well-taken goal in the 47th minute to earn all the points available for his team.
At the Muhammad Dikko Stadium in Katsina, Katsina United made light work of Plateau United with a comfortable 2-0 win.
A much-changed Plateau United side, who have already sewn up the second spot put up a resilient fight in the first half that ended goalless but got beat by two second-half goals.
Young striker Mustapha Salisu’s brace in the 55th and 78th minute meant all the three points to Katsina and a quantum leap towards their quest to avoid relegation.
A brilliant game of football in Uyo saw Akwa United share the spoils with Abia Warriors in an entertaining 2-2 draw.
It was a ding-dong affair at the Nest of Champions as the two teams went at each other’s jugular.
Naipe Akpesiri gave the hosts the lead in the sixth minute before Godwin Obaje restored parity in the 23rd minute. Wisdom Fernando ensued Akwa United went ahead at the break with a 32nd-minute goal but Michael Ibe spoilt the party for the former league champions with the equaliser 12 minutes before time.
Niger Tornadoes had to dig deep to come from behind to earn a 2-1 win over Heartland of Owerri which effectively sealed their status in the NPFL for another season.
Heartland was top in patches in the first half and the second half and deservedly took the lead in the 84th minute through Nnamdi Egbujuo.
The goal seemed to wake Niger Tornadoes up as they launched a flurry of attacks that culminated in two goals.
Ifeanyi Okoye responded after his team went behind inside two minutes to tie the game before getting his second and Tornadoes’ winner in the 90th minute.
Kwara United, who are still in the hunt for a continental slot made light work of already relegated MFM in Ilorin hitting the Lagos side for three.
Junior Lokosa opened the floodgates in the 15th minute as Adesina Gata joined the act with a classy finish three minutes later to give Kwara United a soft cushion going into the break.
Samad Kadiri completed the rout with five minutes left of the encounter to boost Kwara’s hopes of going to the continent even though Remo Stars, who are in a direct race with Kwara United also produced a brilliant performance to nick all three points in Akure.
Aba side Enyimba faltered at home and kissed goodbye their fight for third place after receiving a 2-0 hiding at the hands of visiting Dakadda at the Enyimba International Stadium.
A goal in each half by Arise Ogundare in the 56th and Ezekiel Eddiong in the 90th minute meant Finidi George and his wards finished their home campaign with a loss and failed to qualify to play on the continent.
Nasarawa United edged Kano Pillars 1-0 in Jos as King Osanga popped up to prod home from Chinedu Ohanachom’s assist to earn maximum points. At the same time, Lobi had to dig deep to come from behind to beat Wikki Tourists in Makurdi.
Nanen Imenger had initially put Lobi ahead in the 17th minute but two quick-fire goals in three minutes by Ibrahim Salisu meant the visitors were ahead at the break.
Anthony Agbaji restored parity for Lobi from the spot in the 60th minute beating Galadima in goal for Wikki.
Another spot-kick for Lobi in the 89th minute, taken by Agbaji was saved by Galadima but Utim Godfrey reacted quickest to slot in the rebound to earn his side a 3-2 win.
MatchDay 37 Results
Akwa United 2-2 Abia Warriors
Enyimba 0-2 Dakkada FC
Gombe United 1-0 Rangers
Katsina United 2-0 Plateau United
Kwara United 3-0 MFM FC
Lobi Stars 3-2 Wikki Tourist
Nasarawa United 1- 0 Pillars
Niger Tornadoes 2-1 Heartland
Shooting Stars 3-2 Rivers United
Sunshine Stars 0-1 Remo Stars