Free-scoring midfielder Godwin Aguda scored twice as Rangers International produced a five-star performance to beat Remo Stars 5-2 in a Matchday 12 encounter decided at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium in Enugu on Sunday.
Indeed it was the visitors that scored first through defender Bright Akpojuvwewo but they ultimately had their stars dimmed by the rampantly Flying Antelopes with forwards Ifeanyi George, Ibrahim Ajani and Michael Uchebo also getting on the scoresheet as Rangers climbed to third on Group A table despite having a whopping six games in hand.
Remo Stars started the game like a house on fire in a way that somehow suggested there would be plenty of goals offering at The Cathedral. Winger Lanre Runsewe would feel he should have done better when he chipped his effort wide after Mbaoma’s deft pass freed him in the second minute.
Gbenga Ogunbote’s Rangers also attacked two minutes later but Ugochukwu Ugwuoke who would later have a barnstormer of a performance headed Chidera Ezeh’s right wing free kick over when left totally unmarked inside the box.
The first of the seven goals in the game came in the seventh minute after Rangers were caught in a moment of loss of concentration during a corner situation. Runsewe’s corner took a faintest of touches by Mbaoma’s head, enough to flick the ball to the far post where Akpojuvwewo tapped to a gaping goal.
There were lots of attacking options on display for both sides and that goal by a centre-back Akpojuvwewo triggered a goal-fest effect. Rangers as expected poured forward in torrents but were made to wait till the latter stages of the first half before making a head way.
Remo goalkeeper Emmanuel Fabiyi pushed a George effort onto the cross bar in the 18th minute while Ibrahim Ajani flicked a corner with the inside of his right boot over the bar seven minutes later. The breakthrough was getting nearer for the hosts.
The equalising goal came nine minutes before the break through a moment of brilliance by striker George. The forward received a throw-in from his former Enyimba teammate, left-back Ugwu Uwadiegwu; shimmied and dummied two defenders before coming face to face with Fabiyi whom he finished beyond.
Rangers promptly had a chance to go in front for the first time in the game four minutes later when another of Ajani Ibrahim’s flick was blatantly handled by a Remo Stars defender. Specialist Aguda coolly obliged from the spot to give Rangers the lead at half-time.
There was still enough time for Aguda to get his brace in the first half but the midfielder uncharacteristically shot wide when put through in a good position.
In spite of Rangers’ elimination from the 2018/19 CAF Confederation Cup, Aguda remains the tournament’s joint top scorer with six goals. While his missed effort was the final act of the first half, the midfielder who captained the team before the introduction of Okey Odita in the second half made amends with the opener of a four-goal second half within five minutes of the restart. A rather strange goal.
A loose ball was rolling towards Remo goalkeeper Fabiyi but Aguda closed in on Akpojuvwewo who wanted to leave it for his goalkeeper and on seeing the pint-sized star approaching, a suggestively confused Akpojuvwewo decided to move with the ball into his own area, rounded his onrushing goalkeeper, only for Aguda to steal the ball from him immediately. What happened next was a tap into an empty net.
Rangers made it 4-1 on the hour mark through Ajani. The forward latched onto Bright Silas backward header, sped past Akpojuvwewo before hitting a composed finish beyond Fabiyi. Remo head coach Kennedy Boboye, at this point had seen enough of the experienced defender and subsequently replaced him with Edoka Owoicho.
That and a flurry of other substitutions watered down the entertaining fixture midway through the second half but one of the substitutes Michael Uchebo showed he really wanted to offer more but Fabiyi denied him from point blank range eight minutes from time.
A minute later, Rangers conceded a second in another bizarre moment. Remo substitute Abiodun Awoyemi who had come on for the injured Omotayo Adebogun overlapped on the right before delivering a deep cross aimed at Dare Shokunbi. While the winger kept pressure on Rangers right-back Chidera Ezeh, the defender inadvertently glanced his header over his goalkeeper Nana Bonsu to reduce the deficit to two.
Uchebo would however provide the final act of the game in the nick of time when he made the most of time and space accorded to him to score a fifth for his side. The first touch wasn’t quite the best but a seeming lack of interest from the Remo defence coupled with the striker’s determination saw him past his marker at the second attempt before burying home a left-footed effort.
Rangers’ five-star performance took them to third on the table, ahead of Lobi Stars on goals difference and are four points behind second-placed Enyimba. Both Rangers and Remo Stars will face again on Wednesday in the corresponding fixture in Sagamu.
Rangers: 25. Nana Bonsu 11. Chidera Ezeh 3. Ugwu Uwadiegwu 26. Tony Shimaga 5. Pape Ousmane (Okey Odita 58′) 24. Isiaka Oladuntoye 17. Bright Silas 27. Ibrahim Ajani (Pascal Seka 66′) 15. Ifeanyi George (Michael Uchebo 79′) 10. Ugochukwu Ugwuoke 2. Godwin Aguda
Unused Subs: 1. Seidu Mutawakilu 4. Okey Odita 8. Kelvin Itoya 9. Michael Uchebo 12. Seka Pascal 20. Tope Olusesi 22. Solomon Okpako
BOOKED: Okey Odita 67′
GOALS: Ifeanyi George 36, Godwin Aguda 45′ (PEN), 50′ Ibrahim Ajani 60, Michael Uchebo 90′
Remo Stars: 1. Emmanuel Fabiyi 26. Clement Ogbobe 21. Muoghara Dede 4. Simon Elijah 3. Bright Akpojuvwewo (Edoka Owoicho 69′) 6. Olisa Ndah 24. Dare Shokunbi 8. Lasisi Saheed 25. Victor Mbaoma 10. Omotayo Adebogun (Abiodun Awoyemi 71′ 23. Lanre Runsewe (Mathias Ogwuche 55′)
Unused Subs: 16. Moses Ocheje 9. Ekene Awazie 18. Kingsley Akemini
BOOKED: Olisa Ndah 37′
GOALS: Bright Akpojuvwewo 7′ Chidera Ezeh 83′
Man of the match: Godwin Aguda (Rangers)