NAKURU, Kenya, July 10- Stephen Owusu scored a controversial 88th minute penalty as league leaders Tusker FC opened a five-point gap at the top of the Kenyan Premier League following their 2-1 win over Ulinzi Stars at the Afraha Stadium on Sunday.
Ugandan winger Robert Omunuk had equalized with a six yard volley in the second half after Ulinzi had gotten into the lead through Samuel Onyango’s screamer in the first half.
The result saw Tusker avenge a 2-0 defeat they suffered in the first-leg at the hands of the military men.
Ulinzi will feel aggrieved with the result after putting up a superb fight especially in the opening 45 and their disappointment was all over their faces as they stepped up to the centre referee Israel Mpaima to continue their protests from the late penalty.
Danson Kago had broken into the Ulinzi half from a quickly executed counter attack in the 87th minute and Ulinzi defender Geoffrey Kokoyo slid in to poke the ball off, but referee Mpaima adjudged him to have fouled Tusker, despite the Ulinzi man having a clear touch of the ball.
Noah Wafula managed to skip past Ulinzi keeper James Saruni inside the box after just four minutes, but his attempt at cutting back the ball for someone to finish was futile as Oliver Rutto came to the rescue sweeping the ball away.
Saruni was forced into a beautiful save two minutes later when he palmed Shafik Batambuze’s freekick over the bar after Omunuk was fouled at the edge of the box.
The military side sucked up the pressure and began picking their battles upfront, looking for a way through the Tusker defense that had managed to hold its own for most of the opening minutes.
Ulinzi’s top scorer John mark Makwatta had an attempt in the 20th minute after executing a shot from the edge of the box on the second touch of the ball after his first had set him up from an Ezekiel Otuoma pass.
The pressure finally paid off in the 28th minute and in emphatic fashion
Otuoma turned from scorer to provider putting new signing Samuel Onyango through from the left and the former Sony player justified his start with a ferocious shot that left Tusker keeper David Okello stunned with the net shaking vehemently behind him.
As the half closed in to an end, Tusker picked up their tempo and once again, Saruni was forced to earn his pay.
In the 36th minute Omunuk saw his shot saved by the Ulinzi keeper with Michael Khamati’s effort at landing on the rebound being waved down after the first assistant waved for offside.
In the second period, Tusker stepped up the pace with Noah Wafula who had not made much of an impact in the match being hounded off for Kago.
In the 62nd minute, the lanky Oscar Wamalwa did well to skip past his marker to pull a shot but the effort went wide. A minute on the turn, Makwatta had an effort saved by Okello from a tight angle on the right.
Ulinzi were forced to play on their heels as Tusker brought the game into their half, knowing only three points will keep their chase for an 11th title alive.
They got the equalizer in the 69th minute when Omunuk sneaked behind the defense to volley in unmarked from a Batambuze cross after the Ugandan left back picked up the ball from a poorly defended Eugene Asike free kick.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Matano went all attack, bringing in Enosh Ochieng and Daniel Waweru for the tired feet of Otuoma and Wamalwa.
But it was Tusker who would have the last laugh, Owusu scoring from the contested spot kick just few seconds after coming on for Khamati.