By Emmanuel Chinedu
Defending Champions Rivers United take a step closer to retaining the title and grabbed a continental ticket as they defeated Bendel Insurance 2-1to their unbeaten run. It was a Matchday encounter, of the ongoing 2023 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) Championship playoff, at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan.
The pride of Rivers, who came into the game on the back of their goalless draw against Lobi Stars, on Wednesday, took the lead through Morice Chukwu, in the 45+2 minutes, from a Farouk Mohammed cross.
In the second half, Insurance pressed on for an equalizer when Super Eagles new invitee Divine Nwachukwu made a delightful cross to Sarki Ismael, but his low header was perfectly saved by goalkeeper Sochima Victor, in the 54 minutes.
The Benin Arsenal coach Monday Odigie had to bring in Vincent Augustus and Imade Osarenkhoe to help push his team forward, but Rivers United defense stood still.
The game began to look as it would end in a 1-0 scoreline before second half substitute Joseph Onoja, who was inside the box slotted home a delightful through pass by Ukeme Williams to double Rivers United lead 2-0, in the 90th minute. Divine Nwachukwu scored his third goal of the tournament to pull a goal back for Insurance.
The victory moves Rivers United top of the log with eight points from four games as they ended Bendel Insurance 21 games unbeaten run this season.
Bendel Insurance remains in the fourth position with three points from four games, with the hopes of continental football looking out of reach.