Ne­jmeh back on top af­ter nar­row win

Team re­gains Le­banese Premier League top spot with to­tal of 19 points

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - SPORTS - FOOT­BALL By James Jabra

BEIRUT: Ne­jmeh came alive in the sec­ond half to de­feat Tada­mon Sour 1-0 Fri­day and re­turn to the sum­mit of the Le­banese Premier League with 19 points af­ter seven rounds.

A lack­lus­ter 60 min­utes did lit­tle to dis­cour­age Boris Bun­jak’s side, who turned up the gears in the fi­nal half-hour with skip­per Hasan Maa­touk prov­ing the dif­fer­ence in a cagey en­counter.

The tal­is­manic for­ward en­gi­neered Ne­jmeh’s opener be­fore miss­ing a glut of chances to put the game to bed.

But Maa­touk’s profli­gacy in the fi­nal third had counted for naught in the end as Ne­jmeh held on to ap­ply the pres­sure on de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Ahed ahead of their tricky tie with third-place Akhaa Ahli Aley Sat­ur­day.

Af­ter last week’s goal­less draw with Bekaa, Ne­jmeh knew that they could not af­ford an­other wob­ble if they are to mount a chal­lenge for a se­ri­ous ti­tle.

But the hosts be­gan rather slug­gishly in­side the Sports City Sta­dium, with Tada­mon mak­ing in­roads in at­tack, while Ne­jmeh’s pass­ing lacked any real pen­e­tra­tion.

The early knock­ings of the sec­ond half were of a sim­i­lar ilk, but Maa­touk would soon ease Ne­jmeh nerves with a bril­liant solo ef­fort.

The 31-year-old sin­gle-hand­edly sparked the move, charg­ing down Tada­mon’s right-back to gain pos­ses­sion of the ball.

A for­tu­itous bounce then saw Maa­touk rac­ing clear down the by­line, and he rolled an inch-per­fect pass to Abou Baker al-Mal for the eas­i­est of fin­ishes af­ter 62 min­utes.

Maa­touk con­tin­ued to run the show for his em­bold­ened team, stand­ing up an invit­ing cross at the far post that Philipe Dos San­tos headed over.

A slalom­ing run then had the Tada­mon de­fense backpedal­ing en masse, with Maa­touk rid­ing a num­ber of chal­lenges be­fore see­ing his shot be­ing cleared off the line by Khodr Hal­lak.

Ne­jmeh were nearly made to rue Maa­touk’s loose­ness in front of goal, as Tada­mon spurned a pair of gilt-edged op­por­tu­ni­ties in the dy­ing mo­ments.

Stephen Sarfo scuffed his ef­fort from a promis­ing po­si­tion, be­fore Fadel An­tar forced a bril­liant last­ditch save from Abbas Hasan as Ne­jmeh nar­rowly sur­vived the late scare.

Tada­mon spurned a pair of gilt-edged op­por­tu­ni­ties in the last mo­ments of the game.

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