NAIROBI, March 1 –George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo came off the bench to grab the stoppage goal that sent Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia through to the first round of CAF Champions League on the away goals rule despite going down 3-2 to CNaPS in Madagascar in a pulsating second leg Sunday.
K’Ogalo who needed a draw to advance after carrying a slim 1-0 win from the home leg forced a 3-3 tie on aggregate in Miarinarivo where in form Victor Ali Abondo netted the other goal.
Gor head coach Frank Nuttall made a change from the squad that played in the first leg with Collins Okoth replacing Jerry Santos in the midfield.
The visitors began the encounter on a low with CNaPS missing an early penalty before they found the back of the net on the fifth minute from a deflected shot to level the aggregate score at a one-all.
Youngster Michael Olunga who finally got his debut goal for Gor against Mathare United in their opening KPL match squandered a golden chance in the 22nd to level.
K’Ogalo’s efforts paid off in the 35th when Abondo scored a crucial away goal and his sixth since rejoining the team from Tusker FC this season to restore parity.
Nuttall’s defence failed to hold on the 2-1 aggregate lead with CNaPS going ahead three minutes later after their striker weaved past Kevin Oluoch and Musa Mohammed to place the ball beyond keeper Boniface Oluoch.
And on the stroke of halftime, it was 3-1 on the day as Gor conceded again to leave them facing the early exit door.
Playing in front of their home fans, the hosts returned with a defensive mind but Olunga managed to break through the backline and beat the keeper only to see his effort cleared on the line.
The visitors continued to pile pressure but their hard work could not pay forcing Nuttall to replace Ronald Omino with Odhiambo who emerged the hero by sending Gor through in added time to set up a first round two-legged knockout crash against Congo’s AC Leopards.