Hartland of Owerri stunned league toping Rivers United in Owerri, sending the Port Harcourt side home with a 2:0 goal deficit in the Nigeria Professional Football League Matchday 28 fixtures.
It was the Naze Millionaire’s first victory over the Pride of Rivers in their five encounters at home.
Goals by Sunday Chinedu and Mbaoma Chijioke in the second half of the game took the hosts to the 16th position with 31 points.
Rivers United made two changes to the squad that defeated MFM last weekend with the duo of Chiamaka Madu and Morice Chukwu making the first 11 while Lookman Binuyo and Nelson Esor were relegated to the bench.
Heartland of Owerri also made four changes to the squad that suffered defeat to Rangers at Awka last week. Chijioke Ejiogu, Andrew Abalogu, Sunday Chinedu, and Chibueze Ebejo returned to the first team, while the duo of Femi Thomas and Adejoh Ojonugwa began the game from the bench.
Nnaemeka Anyanwu was suspended due to accumulated cautions and Samuel Okon was unavailable for the game.
The first 10 minutes of the game had both sides going at one another with attacks but the half ended 0-0.
Two minutes into the second half, Heartland were awarded a penalty as a result of Kazie Enyinnaya’s handball in the box. But Chukwudi Nwaodu fluffed the chance as he hit the ball over the bar.
Heartland eventually got the lead from Sunday Chinedu’s header off a freekick from Chukwudi Nwaodu in the 54th minute. Four minutes later, Rivers’ chance to equalise through Chijioke Akuneto’s shot from Gbadamosi’s clearance went off target.
The Naze Millionaire doubled the lead with a subtle ball from Chijioke Mbaoma in the 61st minute. The attacker sent Rivers goalkeeper, Afelokhai the wrong way after receiving a well-placed through pass from Alexander Alfred.
Rivers United’s defeat, the second in 2022 halted their chance of increasing their lead over Plateau but they maintain the first position with 58 points.
Elsewhere in Aba, Enyimba fought hard for a 2-1 victory over Lobi Stars.
Second-half goals from Samuel Kalu and Samuel Stones helped Finidi George’s side to stay unbeaten in their last three games. However, Lobi Stars had a consolation goal from Samuel Ganda.
Enyimba’s victory sent them to the fifth position with 42 points while Lobi Stars stayed in the 15th position with 32 points.