Nejmeh back on top after narrow win
Team regains Lebanese Premier League top spot with total of 19 points
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.