KARACHI: Kaleemullah’s red-hot form continued in the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) on Thursday as champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) opened up a two-point gap at the top of the table following their 4-0 thumping of Afghan FC.
National Bank (NBP), who went into their fixture against Pakistan Army level in points with KRL, dropped off the pace after their game ended in a 1-1 draw while there were victories for Wapda, Navy and Muslim FC on a day that saw as many as 15 goals being scored.
Three of them belonged to Kaleemullah as the striker’s third hat-trick in four games saw KRL move to 31 points from 13 games after a relatively easy victory over Afghan FC at the Railway’s Football Stadium in Lahore.
Kaleemullah took just five minutes to get on the score-sheet after a superb through ball from Mahmood Khan found him in space in the penalty box and he made no mistake as he slotted it past the Afghan FC goalkeeper.
His second came in the 35th after he connected to a cross from the right by Bilawal and turned it into the net with a deft volley before completing his treble in the 59th to take his tally to an astonishing 10 goals in the last four games.
Saadullah scored the other goal for KRL in the 43rd and Tariq Lutfi’s side, who have three games in hand over NBP, would be looking to carry this form into their last two matches in Lahore to increase the gap over the bankers.
NBP took the lead against Army at the Army Stadium in Rawalpindi after Mohammad Asif scored in first-half injury time and looked to be cruising to victory but Army, and the defender Shahid Zamir, had other ideas.
Shahid popped up with the equalizer in the 83rd to help Army go third with 28 points from 14 games, a point behind second-placed NBP.
Wapda joined Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on 27 points from 14 games after a 3-0 victory over Baloch FC at the Railways Football Stadium.
Zulfiqar Shah’s 26th minute strike gave Wapda the lead before Baloch FC were reduced to ten men barely ten minutes later after Habibullah was sent off following his second yellow card of the game.
Two goals in four second-half minutes sealed Wapda’s victory with Mohammad Asah Shahzad scoring in the 58th and Arif Mahmood netting in the 62nd.
Muslim FC recorded a long-awaited win after they thrashed Wohaib FC 4-1 at the UMT Football Ground in Lahore with Haji Mohamad scoring a brace.
Haji opened the scoring in the 2nd minute but PMC’s reply at their home ground was quick as Usman levelled matters in the 16th.
Hayatullah’s strike in the 44th brought Muslim FC back into the lead before Haji’s second goal in the 75th settled any nerves and Saeed scored four minutes later to seal win.
After back-to-back losses had threatened to derail Muslim FC’s campaign after a fine start, three points on Thursday helped them to take their tally to 21 from 15 games.
Elsewhere in Faisalabad, Navy’s 1-0 victory over PMC Athletico, which increased their points tally to 18 from 15 games, came courtesy Asif Bukhsh’s 73rd minute goal.
Friday’s fixtures: ZTBL v KESC (Jinnah Football Stadium, Islamabad); PAF v PIA (PAF Complex Ground, Peshawar).