Stephen Odey hits double figures as MFM defeat NPFL leaders Plateau 2-1
League leaders Plateau United against third-placed MFM FC was the highlight of a superb weekend of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) matches and there were milestones aplenty on the day, as Nigeria football federation president Amaju Pinnick -- who was just elected to the CAF executive committee, becoming only the third Nigerian to be so elevated -- was at the grounds. Accompanying him were his two vice presidents, one of whom is chairman of the league organising body, and a posse of other top football administrators.
On the pitch, the football did not disappoint and there was plenty to cheer about, especially with young MFM striker Stephen Odey.
Here are three thoughts from an excellent NPFL weekend.
Odey hits double figures
It won't be too long before league followers run out of adjectives to describe Odey. The 19-year-old striker became the first player to hit double figures when he helped himself to a brace against Plateau United in what was without doubt the standout fixture of the round.
League leaders Plateau came to Lagos on the back of losing their 100 percent home record following a 0-0 draw to Lobi Stars in midweek. There was a clear determination to make amends against MFM and they went on the front foot immediately, forcing errors from the home side with their confident passing and controlled movement.
But it was the home side who took the lead. Sikiru Olatunbosun of CNN Goal of the Week fame peeled away to the left channel, dragging three defenders with him. When he squared the ball to Odey, all alone at the top of the box, he had little else to do but side-foot home. It was Olatunbosun's fourth assist of the season to Odey, clear proof of what a lethal partnership this is proving to be.
Peter Eneji levelled for Plateau in what was a magnificent team build-up and goal. Such was the quality of the passing that MFM barely knew where the ball was going until it was nestling snugly in the net.
Plateau continued to press forward and were edging the game, but MFM were to have the last laugh. Chukwuma "Xavi" Onuwa threaded an excellent ball into the Plateau area, Olatunbosun was upended as he latched onto it and the resultant penalty was expertly dispatched by Odey, who took his tally to 10, making him the first player to hit that mark this campaign.
The 2-1 win moved MFM to second on the log, one point behind Plateau with a game in hand. And who says another Odey goal cannot take them to the top?
Plateau deserve to be top
For any fan who had not watched Plateau United this season, this was a chance to find out that their position on the log is deserved. Even though they lost this game by the final whistle, nobody in the stadium could argue that the team from Jos are not deserved league leaders.
Plateau's football was easy on the eye and their composure, even under presssure, was admirable. MFM coach Fidelis Ilechukwu had nothing but praise for his opponents.
"Plateau United showed they are a good team with a good coach and they deserve to be where they are," he said.
He is in good company. There are a growing number of believers jumping on the Plateau bandwagon and supporting the football that Kennedy Boboye has his side playing.
Saved by the ... penalty kicks?
Of the six games played this weekend, four were decided by penalties. All of them went to the home sides.
MFM needed a late penalty to subdue Plateau United in Lagos after Olatunbosun was felled in the box. FC Ifeanyi Ubah squandered a two-goal advantage against El Kanemi Warriors and were on the verge of dropping two home points when King Osanga was taken down in the box and Ifeanyi Onuigbo gratefully slammed the resultant penalty home to seal all three points for the hosts. Wikki Tourists were set on their way to a first win in six matches when Victor Yakubu converted a spot kick after just four minutes against Katsina United. That match finished 2-1.
At Ilorin, Enyimba thought they had done enough to earn three points before late pressure forced them to concede a penalty. Stone Evbounwam made them pay, slotting home from six yards to ensure a share of the booty in a 1-1 draw.
To be fair, there have been little complaints from opposing squads about being penalised, but when four spot kicks are awarded in one game week and all go to home teams, it leaves plenty of raised eyebrows.
Colin Udoh is a Nigeria football correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ColinUdoh.