The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) 2018 season began with Katsina United and 10-man Kano Pillars sharing the spoils at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium on Saturday.
Destiny Ashadi secured a point for Katsina, scoring from the penalty spot in the last minute of the game to deny Sai Masu Gida all three points.
Pillars started the game on the front foot, asking all the questions but Katsina goalkeeper Dami Paul was up to the task in the opening minutes of the game.
It was not until the 33rd minute before Pillars could break the deadlock through Junior Lokosa, who finished off expertly from a Victor Dennis pass.
Dennis, who provided the assist for Pillars’ opening goal, was sent off the pitch by referee Sani Mohammed in the 43rd minute for a two-footed challenge on Eric Gwammy.
Pillars looked like they were running away with a first-half win until Chinedu Ajanah lashed onto Destiny Ashadi’s well-delivered free kick and headed in the equaliser in the added minutes before the break.
Just a minute above the hour mark, Alassan Ibrahim scored a screamer to restore Kano Pillars’ lead despite being a man down.
The Kano club tried all they could to maintain the lead until the end. The Pillars goalie, David Obiozor, even saved a penalty played by Muhammed Hussaini in the 83rd minute to keep the scoreline at 2-1.
But it was not to end so as Katsina Utd were awarded another penalty, which was buried by Ashadi in the last minute of added time for the home side to run out with a point.
The remaining nine games in the matchday one will be played on Sunday.
KEY STATISTICS (by NPFL Stats)
- 1 – Junior Lokosa has scored the first goal of the 2018 NPFL season. Opener.
- 20 – Katsina United have now scored at least a goal in each of their last 20 home games in the NPFL. Consistency.
- 2 – Kano Pillars scored more than a goal in an away NPFL match for the first time since March 2016 (2-2 vs Lobi Stars). Revamped.
- 9 – Kano Pillars have extended their opening game unbeaten run to 9 seasons (5W 4D). Stretch.