PPFL. -File photo by White Star

KARACHI: Mohammad bin Younus’ first-half strike was enough to decide the lone Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) match on Monday as KPT recorded their first victory of the season by beating PIA.

“It is great to get our first win of the season after two defeats,” KPT coach Mohammad Asif told Dawn after the match here at the KPT Stadium. “It was a good close game and it does a lot to lift the morale of the players.”

KPT, who suffered defeats to Pakistan Navy and National Bank of Pakistan in their opening two games, got off to a perfect start when Younus scored from close range in the seventh minute.

PIA, who were favourites here, responded with a few attacks of their own but the closest they came to scoring was when substitute Zeeshan Ali was sent clear in the KPT box but his shot brought out a stunning two-footed block from Sajid Hussain in the 44th minute.

In first-half injury-time, KPT got a glorious chance to double their advantage when Younus was fouled in the box.

Defender Akhtar Mamol stepped up to take the resulting penalty but PIA goalkeeper Bilal Rafiq dived low to his left to produce a stunning one-handed save.PIA came into the second-half with renewed confidence and it seemed that Bilal’s save had put a spring in their step.

Zeeshan came closest to equalising when his volleyed shot went narrowly wide before Mamol atoned for his penalty miss by making a crucial interception as two PIA players were racing clear.

Minutes later Zeeshan’s scuffed shot fell in the path of Riaz Ahmed inside the KPT box but he too failed to capitalise with only Sajid to beat.

Mamol then blocked another shot as KPT held on for their first three points of the season.

“Whenever you expect to win, you end up losing… that’s football,” PIA coach Shamim Khan said. “We tried some new players today but it just didn’t work out.”

Tuesday’s fixtures: Afghan FC v Muslim FC (Mali Bagh Ground, Quetta); Army v PAF (Jinnah Football Stadium, Islamabad); Navy v KESC (KPT Football Stadium, Karachi); HBL v NBP (People’s Football Stadium, Karachi).

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