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Safa, Nijmeh wins make title a two-horse race.

Summary: Safa made the most of slip-ups by Ansar and Ahed over the weekend, grinding out a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Shabab al-Ghazieh Sunday to remain at the summit of the Lebanese League standings.

BEIRUT: Safa made the most of slip-ups by Ansar and Ahed over the weekend, grinding out a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Shabab al-Ghazieh Sunday to remain at the summit of the Lebanese League standings. Safa bossed the encounter from the get-go, with Ghazieh flooding their penalty area as they did their utmost to avoid conceding. Imad Ghaddar led the line for the guests, but a lack of support from his teammates rendered Safa goalkeeper Ziad al-Samad a spectator throughout the 90 minutes.

The stubborn approach garnered the desired effect, as Safa struggled for large parts to create clear-cut chances, with the game heading in the direction of a goalless stalemate.

But a moment of lax defending finally crept into Ghazieh's game, as Tarek al-Amrati's 74th minute corner was met by Ali al-Sde, who climbed highest to arrow his header into the goal for a crucial victory.

Fresh off the news of Ansar's 2-0 loss to Racing Saturday, Nijmeh administered a convincing 3-1 thumping of Tripoli, to further distance themselves from their misfiring rivals.

Gilles Mbang Ondo continued his fine scoring form with a well-taken goal to hand his side the lead with only four minutes played.

Some 10 minutes later, a suicidal back-pass from Abdullah Taleb was seized upon by the Mohammad Kassim, stroking his effort past the onrushing Abdo Tafeh for the simplest of finishes.

Abdel-Rahman Akari halved the deficit in the 30th to send both teams to the dressing room with the match still finely poised. But 60 seconds from the restart Ondo made sure of all three points, utilizing a neat give-and-go with Ali Hamam before burying a fierce shot in the back of the net.

With the win, Nijmeh remain a single point behind Safa in the title race at 35 points, while Ahed's 2-0 loss to Tadamon Sour Friday sees them a further seven points behind at 29, with free-falling Ansar in fourth on 23.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Feb 25, 2013
Words:370
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