Nasarawa United mounted a guard of honour for new champions Rivers United at the New Jos Stadium but went on claim victory that keep the Solid Miners nursing a faint hope of playing in the continent next season.
The result means that Nasarawa are six points adrift of third placed Remo Stars with three matches to end the season.
Five minutes into the game, Sunday Okereke shocked the visitors with a goal the host held on till the 80th minute when Sikiru Olatunbosun drew Rivers level.
But Rivers’ handled the ball in the penalty area and Tochukwu Michael converted in added time.
While Plateau United stayed second and protected their eight-point advantage over the team immediately below them, Remo Stars maintain the status quo despite losing in Katsina 2-3. The third team on the log at the end of the season will be registered for the CAF Confederation Cup.
Alameen Adegbite believed he had rescued a point for Remo Stars in the 90th minute to make it 2-2 only for Emmanuel Matthew to strike for Katsina United a minute later.
Tosin Omoyele’s brace in the 11th and 26th minutes ensured that the Chanji Boys went into the break breathing easy. Sikiru Alimi however reduced the tally nine minutes after the restart before the dramatic end of the game gave Katsina victory in Katsina.
Rangers could not take advantage to displace Remo on the log as they also lost to Kano Pillars in Kano through Rabiu Ali’s 51st minute penalty.
Enyimba, Kwara United, Sunshine Stars and Akwa United are among the teams remaining in the race for third spot.
Enyimba settled for a barren result in Aba against relegation-threatened Heartland to remain a point behind Remo Stars, just like Kwara United who were walloped 0-4 by Niger Tornadoes on Saturday.
Sunshine Stars compounded bottom placed MFM’s woes. Before the miserable Lagos side could wake up with their only game of the match, Azeez Ajagbe (11th minute) and Ike Brandon (60th) had virtually won the game for the Akure Gunners.
Akwa United’s victory over Plateau United on Saturday that confirmed Rivers United as champions ensured that the Promise Keepers stay in the hunt for continental Cup ticket.
Gombe United fought from a goal down to defeat visiting Wikki Tourists, who shut ahead with Victor Okoro’s eight minute strike. But Ibrahim Yahaya restored parity in the 35th minute, while Ahmed Jimoh won it in the 65th minute.
Shooting Stars against disappointed their fans By dropping points at home. Two goals by Emmanuel Lucky from the spot in the 30th minute and another five minutes later by Dare Olatunji were cancelled by Valentine Odoh (41st) and Godwin Obaje (70th) to deny the home side joy.
In the battle against relegation, Lobi Stars triumphed in Makurdi through Chinonso Okonkwo’s goal in the 11th minute. That meant that Dakkada dropped a step further in the relegation zone.
There are three more Matchdays to determine the second (CAF Champions League participation) and third (CAF Confederation Cup ticket) and the four teams to be relegated.
Matchday 35 results: Akwa United 2-1 Plateau United, Niger Tornadoes 4-0 Kwara United, Nasarawa United 2-1 Rivers United, Katsina United 3-2 Remo Stars, Gombe United 2-1 Wikki Tourists, Kano Pillars 1-0 Rangers, Sunshine Stars 2-1 MFM, Shooting Stars 2-2 Abia Warriors, Lobi Stars 1-0 Dakkada FC, Enyimba 0-0 Heartland