A last minute goal scored by Ranjan Bista in the dying moments of injury time helped Nepal APF Club send Three Star Club (TSC) packing in a match played at Dasarath Rangashala, Tripureswar, Kathmandu, on Wednesday.
With the 1-0 win, Nepal APF Club advanced to the semi-finals of the tournament.
The match was heading to a goal-less draw when, shortly, APF substitute Bista scored the deciding goal in the final minutes of the injury time, stunning TSC keeper Kiran Chemjong, sealing victory for APF.
Earlier, Bista was shown a yellow card soon after as he came in to replace Jangbu Sherpa, 69 minutes into the game.
APF coach Krishna Thapa said he felt the win was lucky for the team. “We won despite fielding five new players who joined the team on Tuesday,” Thapa said.
The new APF players include Ramesh Dangol, Palsang Lama, Aditya Chaudhary, Man Bahadur Tamang and Hemanta Gurung.
Three Star captain Sandip Rai said his players should improve their weaknesses concerning missing shots.
“This is not only the club’s problem, but a weakness of all Nepali football players.”
Rai also said the team failed to perform well as this was a new session of the tournament.
Both teams had numerous chances which they could not covert because their attempts either went too wide or were saved by the goalies.
TSC’s Jagajeet Shrestha’s early effort was wasted as APF keeper Amrit Chaudhary saved his shot at goal.
Similarly, poor finishing ended Ashim Jung Karki's attempts at scoring goals in the 10th and 24th minutes.
APF could have taken the lead in the 32nd minute, but Karki’s shot hit the top bar.
Jagajit Shrestha's free kick for TSC was ineffective, early in the second half.
APF goalkeeper Chaudhary denied the superb shot off Amar Dangol in the 55th minute.
Some life was brought into the match when TSC got a corner-kick after goalie Chaudhary deflected Dongol’s shot in the 57th minute.
However, a corner from Shrestha turned unsuccessful as Dongol could not give it a finishing touch.
Three-Star made a push in the last 20 minutes. But Sushil KC’s shot from inside the box was brilliantly cleared by Man Bahadur Tamang in the 81st minute and Sandip Rai’s long distance free-kick was easily saved by APF goalie in the 89th minute.
Nepal APF Club will play Jhapa XI in the first semis on Sunday.