Enyimba midfielder Ikechukwu Ibenegbu put up a scintillating performance to help the Peoples Elephant ease past ABS FC 3-0 in a Matchday 34 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) fixture at the UJ Esuene Stadium Calabar on Sunday.
A goal each from Stanley Dimgba and Eric Frimpong in the first half and one from Ibrahim Mustapha in the second was all the Aba giants needed to sink ABS and put life back into their continental aspirations.
Playing in a 4-4-2 formation, Enyimba were solid throughout the game as Nelson Ogbonnaya and Samson Gbadebo were resolute in the heart of defence, making sure goalkeeper Fatau Dauda was not troubled.
Captain of the day, Andrew Abalogu was deployed to play from the right side of defence while Ikouwem Udo showed enterprise from the left-back position.
Dare Ojo was dependable cover for the back-four while Ikechukwu ‘Mosquito’ Ibenegbu orchestrated almost everything in the middle of the pack.
Stephen Chukwude was a terror on the ABS defence up front alongside Ibrahim Mustapha.
Enyimba started the game strongly, dictating the pace and asking all the questions in the opening moments and deservedly took the lead in the 16th minute when Ibenegbu crossed a delightful free kick into the box and Dimgba rose highest to head home the opener.
Earlier, Dimgba and Ibenegbu had troubled Nurudeen Madashir with the ABS goalkeeper making brave interceptions in the 11th and 15th minutes.
Enyimba controlled the tempo of the game but a rare opportunity to ABS in the 23rd minute when Martin Ossy controlled a cross in the box but his follow up attempt went wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Ojo and Chukwude came close with their attempts while Ibenegbu fired an audacious volley from about 25 yards narrowly missed the target.
Not satisfied with a lone goal heading into the break, Frimpong popped up from the far post to head home yet another Ibenegbu’s free kick on the stroke of half time to double Enyimba’s lead which they took to the break.
Enyimba continued from where they stopped in the first, peppering their opponents and forcing them to make lots of errors and committing fouls in the back.
Gbadebo’s header from Dimgba’s corner kick was heading into the post when a goalline clearance saved the blushes of ABS. A good one-two between Chukwude and Mustapha forced a good save from Mudashir howbeit on the second attempt.
Mudashir also cut out another Ibenegbu’s free kick out of danger with three Enyimba players lurking at the back post to pounce.
As good as Mudashir was on the day to keep the scoreline respectful, he could not stop Enyimba in the 63rd minute as Chukwude made a powerful move into the box, taking out three defenders before squaring the ball for Mustapha for an easy tap in for Enyimba’s third.
Despite the changes by ABS gaffer, Henry Makinwa, who admitted after the game that his lads were well beaten by a better side, the scoreline remained same and they looked troubled as they continue to battle relegation with four games to the end of the season.