Nicholas Kipkirui made the difference as Gor Mahia thrashed sorry rivals AFC Leopards 3-1 in yesterday’s SportPesa Premier League tie at Kasarani Stadium.
The dominant K’Ogalo consequently moved to within a point of wrapping their 18th league crown while Leopards will make a ninth attempt to taste a first victory over their rivals next season.
After 23 minutes of anonymity, Nicholas Kipkirui finally drew attention to his presence on the pitch with an instinctive goal. A teasing cross from Francis Kahata found Jacques Tuyisenge in the box. The Rwandan directed a powerful header towards goal which Ezekiel Owade failed to deal with conclusively. He managed to keep it from going inside, spilling wide only for the lurking Kipkirui to slam it back to spark wild celebrations.
K’Ogalo could have doubled their lead two minutes later had Tuyisenge not been too fixated with getting on the scoresheet. K’Ogalo broke down the left on a fast counter attack. Tuyisenge did well to beat Abdalla Salim but Owade narrowed the angle of the Rwandan’s approach.
Rather than picking out Kipkirui and Kenneth Muguna who were yelling for the ball, Tuyisenge went for glory but Owade this time punched the ball out for corner and the chance lost.
Leopards grew into the game, probing Gor with greater punch and mustered their first shot on target when Paul Were, the most outstanding of Ingwe forwards, wiggled his way past Philemon Otieno in the 35th minute and fired low but Fredrick Odhiambo easily gathered.
Leopards again tested Odhiambo from a distance, this time Vincent Oburu slamming a hard shot but the keeper was solidly behind the ball.
Tuyisenge then spurned another chance when he opted to go for goal rather than tee up Muguna who was better placed to score. His finish under pressure was too feeble and wide off the mark.
The man from Kericho then scored his second of the afternoon and set up Gor’s third in a span of two minutes. A quick interplay set Kipkirui through on goal and he fired on Owade’s left to double K’Ogalo lead.
Before the dust had settled on the celebrations, the former Zoo FC man was at it again, this time lobbing the ball over Owade. Leopards centre-back Salim assumed the ball would fly over the bar but it cannoned back in play, allowing Tuyisenge to score Gor’s third.
Africa Cup of Nations-bound Joash Onyango then made a costly error with four minutes left. A casual pass to no one in particular found the feet of Vincent Oburu just outside Gor’s box. The former K’Ogalo youth player made no mistakes as he beat Odhiambo to pull a goal back for Ingwe. The goal sparked a spirited fightback by Leopards but it was too little too late as K’Ogalo claimed all points.