Rangers International have sealed a place in the the pre-group stage playoffs of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup after a 3-1 thrashing of AS Pelicans of Gabon in the return leg match of the Second Preliminary Round Sunday at Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, Completesports.com reports.
The Coal City Flying Antelopes went through on 4-3 aggregate.
The Nigerians went out fighting immediately after the kick off and fired a warning shot to the Gabonese side after two minutes when defender Semiu Liadi directed his headed effort into the side netting from a Chidera Eze free kick from the edge of the Pelicans box.
The visitors heeded the warning and three minutes later, Liadi went into the referee’s book when he tripped goal bound Cruz Ndong Enteghe on the edge of Rangers box.
And Dertin Amores wasted no effort in planting his left foot kick into the top corner for Pelicans to take a shock 1-0 lead and 3-1 on aggregate. That was exactly five minutes into play.
Having gone behind so early in the game, the Flying Antelopes poured out in numbers, encamping in their opponents area in search of goals.
The chances came in trickles but poor decisions in the final third cost them time and again.
Their efforts were rewarded on 19 minutes when Ifeanyi George took advantage of indecision between Pelicans’ defence and goalkeeper to head in the equaliser.
Rangers grew in confidence, dominant in their play and had an appeal for penalty waved away by the Central African Republic referee when Tope Olusesi went to the ground inside the box under a slight challenge.
But the ball came back gloriously to George who fired inches over the crossbar when he should have scored.
Both sides went into the half time break on equal terms even as the visitors still held a 3-2 aggregate advantage.
Rangers came back in the second period more dominant. This was highlighted by two quick goals from Nnamdi Egbujuo who headed in from a corner kick five minutes after the restart to give the Nigerians a 2-1 lead and 3-3 on aggregate.
Five minutes later, Oluwatoyin Olawoyin made it 3-1 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate for Rangers when he scrambled in the ball during a goalmouth tussle.
Coach Benedict Ugwu who refreshed his attack early in the second half leading to the rush of goals, with the introduction of Chinonso Ezekwe for Chidera Eze, later subbed veteran Bartholomew ” Ibenegbu with Kenechukwu Agu as the home side pressed for more goals.
With 12 minutes left on the clock, Pelicans forward, Odile Ombio forced a fantastic save from Rangers keeper, Opubo Japhet following a cross from the right flank.
With 3-1 advantage on the night, Rangers resorted to game management as they defended in numbers to contain the now adventurous Pelicans strikers.
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