Phnom Penh Crown draw within a point of the league leaders with a 3-1 win over National Defence Ministry on Saturday, while Naga Corp smash Spark FC 3-0
A second-half display of power from Phnom Penh Crown was enough to overwhelm a plucky National Defence Ministry (MND) side Saturday and ensure that they kept up the pressure on Preah Khan Reach at the top of the Cambodian Premier League table.
After a slow opening to the first half, the game received the desired shot in the arm on 22 minutes when MND took a shock lead against the run of play. Nov Sokseila provided the moment of divine inspiration when he picked up the ball on the right and burst into the box.
After beating two players, the angle was against him, but the tiny winger managed to toe-poke the ball past the keeper to cap a glorious solo effort.
The goal certainly caused alarm in the Crown defence, and just minutes later the defending champions' back line were pushing the panic buttons again when Um Kompheak connected well with an acrobatic volley, only to see it whistle past the post.
With 16 minutes left in the half, Crown had their best chance so far when a Chan Rithy corner cleared everybody, including a shaky-looking Samrith Seiha in goal, but when the ball fell to Tunji Ayoyinka at the far stick, his cross-cum-shot evaded everybody when all it needed was the slightest touch.
After the break, Crown set the tone from the off with Oscar Mpoko hitting a vicious shot with the outside of his boot from the edge of the box. The ball was flying into the top corner, but Samrith Seiha leapt like a praying mantis and acrobatically clawed it away.
It didn't take long for the goal to come however, and just five minutes into the half Crown were level. Ayoyinka was sent rocketing down the left and, although he could have gone it alone, the Nigerian forward unselfishly squared to Srey Veasna, who arrived at the far post to tap in.
Crown then laid siege to the MND goal, with a shot from Mpoko dubiously disallowed. However, they had to wait until the 85th minute before the breakthrough finally came. Chan Rithy played a delicious reverse pass with his weaker right foot for Mpoko to control. Without breaking his stride, the midfield dynamo volleyed a sumptuous lob over the keeper and into the net.
Somewhat harshly on MND, it was soon three when, in injury time, Ayoyinka collected a long ball, held off two defenders and finished calmly to wrap up the points for Crown.
Naga Corp 3 Spark FC 0
In Saturday's second game, Spark FC were unable to deal with a Naga Corp side that coasted to victory without ever moving out of second gear.
After almost opening the scoring in comedic circumstances when the Spark goalkeeper's attempted clearance bounced off Teab Vathanak and just wide on seven minutes, Naga eventually found the back of the net, although once again there was more than a whiff of good fortune about it.
Naga's Yemi Oyewole was fed on the edge of the box, and the cultured midfielder's attempted cross looped over the goalkeeper and dipped just in time to sneak into the far corner for the opener.
Twenty-two minutes in, though, Spark almost nicked an equaliser against the run of play through a superb Plong Chanthou header, but Chaom Veasna was able to flick the ball away from just underneath the bar.
Nine minutes later, Oyewole almost grabbed his second of the afternoon, but his header flashed just wide, with the keeper scrambling. Then, with eleven minutes left in the half, Naga made it two. Teab Vathanak twisted up his marker on the left, fired in a great low ball across, and with numerous players sliding in, Olawaseun Olatide made a hash of his clearance and turned it past his own goalkeeper.
It was more of the same in the second half. Sunday Okonkwo almost added a third for Naga in the 51st minute when he picked the ball up 30 yards from goal, drove at the defence and unleashed a thunderbolt with his left foot which Pouv Raksa did well to turn over the bar.
Just a minute later, Okonkwo went even closer when he met Teab Vathanak's low cross from the left with the outside of his right boot. The shot beat the keeper but thudded off the base of the post and rebounded to safety.
Naga were rampant by this point, and after Oyewole saw his strike well saved by Pouv Raksa, they got the third goal their dominance deserved. Teab Vathanak outfoxed a defender on the edge of the box and slipped a sly pass through to Friday Nwakuna, who kept his composure and placed the ball into the corner to put the seal on an impressive Naga performance.