KARACHI: Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) took full advantage of a slip-up by league leaders Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) to close the gap at the top of the table on Tuesday.
KRL ended National Bank’s (NBP’s) unbeaten record so far when they edged them in a close encounter 1-0 while KESC were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Wohaib FC.
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) continued their resurgence as they overcame Navy 1-0 while Afghan FC grabbed a vital victory after they beat Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) by the same margin.
KESC still top the table with 24 points, followed by NBP with 22 while third-placed KRL have 19 but have played three games fewer than the leaders.
At the Railways Football Stadium in Lahore, KRL and NBP went into the standout fixture of the day with both teams defending unbeaten records.
In an absorbing match, Mohammad Qasim struck the decider in the 30th minute when he struck the ball home after the ball ricocheted to him in a crowded penalty area from a corner.
NBP coach Nasir Ismail tried to inspire his side in order to salvage their unbeaten record and although they created several chances, they could not find the leveller.
“I’m upset as our unbeaten record came to an end,” Nasir told Dawn from Lahore. “But I’m satisfied with the efforts my boys put in.
“We’re a young side and many of our experienced players are out injured. And there is no shamre in losing to the defending champions.”
KRL coach Tariq Lutfi, meanwhile, was overjoyed at the victory following two draws in their last couple of games, including a 2-2 draw against KESC in their last game.
“Its great that we won a crunch game against a top side,” he said. “We have a good three matches on KESC and we’ll try our best to overhaul them in the table.”
At the UMT Football Ground in Lahore, KESC showed the same fighting spirit that they showed against KRL when they came back from two goals down to force a draw.
They fell behind to a 5th minute strike by Wohaib’s Noman but came storming back and scored the equalizer when Mohammad Riaz netted in the 55th.
In Peshawar, PAF grabbed a late victory after Mohammad Mudassir struck in the 81st minute to secure all three points against Navy and move to 18 points from 11 games.
Meanwhile, Salahuddin Awan’s goal proved to be the difference in the match between two of the league’s struggling sides namely Afghan FC and ZTBL at the Jinnah Football Stadium in Islamabad.
Victory propelled Afghan FC to seven points from nine outings while ZTBL also have seven points but they have played a game more.
Wednesday’s fixtures: Army v Muslim FC (Army Stadium, Rawalpindi), Wapda v PIA (Railways Football Stadium, Lahore).