Dele Olorundare produced a moment of magic, four minutes before half time, to shoot Sunshine Stars past Rivers United in a fiercely-fought Nigeria Professional Football League game decided in Akure on Saturday.
Sunshine Stars started on the front foot and should have scored at least twice in the opening 15 minutes.
Olorundare was however denied by the Rivers United goal keeper in the seventh and 14th minutes as the hosts looked to gain the early initiative.
United did not have their first real goal attempt until the 21st minute when the Sunshine Stars goalkeeper, Olorunleke Ojo saved unconventionally off an Onyekachi Okafor strike which was hit with venom from the edge of the box.
Sunshine Stars almost took the lead two minutes later through Wilfred Da who somehow managed to miss from six yards after being expertly set up by Joseph Abiodun.
The visitors then proceeded to give away a slew of free kicks to the hosts in quick succession and one of such moments of indiscretion cost them dear just before half time.
Olorundare showed he could hit a pin head from range when he fired in an unstoppable free kick from 35 odd yards that left Rotimi shell-shocked with just four minutes left in a frenetic first half.
The two sides traded chances in the opening ten minutes of a tense second half which got off to a flyer.
Obomate Frederick almost drew United level in the 53rd minute with a free kick that hit the side-netting while Olorundare’s strike from outside the box flew just wide off Rotimi’s right hand post.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between in a half lacking in genuine quality as the hosts held out for an extremely vital three points.
The defeat leave United in third place on the log with 44 points, three adrift of the joint leaders, Wikki Tourists and Enugu Rangers who have both played a game more (27 matches as opposed to 26 played by United).
Sunshine Stars move up one place to sixth with 39 points from 25 matches.