Archive for April, 2008

Inter Milan 2-0 Fiorentina: Nerazzurri Overpower La Viola, +4 Lead Is Maintained (Serie A Matchday 33)

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Inter vs. Fiorentina (Serie A)

Serie AInter Milan take one step closer to the title. With 5 games left in the Serie A, the lead on Roma is still +4 and today’s convincing win vs. Fiorentina should have given the Nerazzurri a much-needed morale booster, to keep their momentum going till the end. That’s what every Inter fan will be hoping for at any rate, but given the not-so-brilliant displays of Mancini’s team recently, I’d say anything’s still possible. As for Fiorentina, well… they were bold and beautiful vs. PSV on Thursday, but today showed every limitation (physical in particular) and reason why they still can’t quite compete with the top trio: Inter were just too strong…

Inter Milan 2-0 Fiorentina: Nerazzurri Overpower La Viola, +4 Lead Is Maintained (Serie A Matchday 33)

Serie A Matchday 33 - Inter 2-0 Fiorentina

Tactically, with Ibrahimovic unavailable Inter manager Roberto Mancini played once again the Mario Balotelli card, partnering up the young Italo-Ghanaian with Julio Cruz in the Nerazzurri attack. Supporting the Inter attacking duo, a very thick midfield composed essentially by the Vieira-Cambiasso-J.Zanetti backbone and the Stankovic playmaking. On the other end, Cesare Prandelli essentially reconfirmed the starting eleven from mideek’s UEFA Cup action, with the exception of Zdravko Kuzmanovic replacing suspended Marco Donadel.

Fiorentina’s Sebastien Frey (right) averts danger in front of Julio Cruz (Inter Milan vs. Fiorentina, Serie A Matchday 33, April 13, 2008)At the start of the match, Fiorentina played their usual “attack-without-inhibition” part, trying to set the pace of the game with their offensive attacking trio (supported by always reliable Santana, Pazzini, and Mutu). Within minutes however, their hosts began taking the reins of the match and assert their domination, and it didn’t take very long for Inter to get their first scoring chances. An incredible series of 4 consecutive corner-kicks notably, gave Patrick Vieira the chance to prove, once and for all, that he’s back to his usual levels of brilliance. On the smashing header of Les Bleus‘ midfielder however, his French colleague Sebastien Frey showed on his part why he’s considered one of the top keepers of Serie A.

The close shave served as a sort of “wake up call” for Fiorentina, because La Viola came back into action in the ensuing minutes and produced some good plays of their own. The culmination of which was the 22nd minute chance by Adrian Mutu, when the Romanian striker (set up by Pazzini) had the chance to dribble Julio Cesar and tap into the empty net, but his last touch was too long and allowed the Inter keeper to close down the danger into corner. That however, was essentially the only noteworthy chance by Fiorentina before the break, as in the remaining 20 minutes Inter came back into the Viola box with fury. In fact, the only reason Fiorentina could close the first half without conceding any goals was because of their keeper, absolutely stunning on the shots by Julio Cruz (twice) and Javier Zanetti.

Esteban Cambiasso celebrates after scoring Inter’s opener (Inter Milan vs. Fiorentina, Serie A Matchday 33, April 13, 2008)In the second period the storyline didn’t change much, and followed essentially the same script from the previous 20-25 minutes: powerful Inter attacks breaking off onto Sebastien “The Wall” Frey, and Fiorentina virtually uncapable of coming out of their half to counter-balance. And alas for Prandelli, one of these attacks proved to be the “one too many” for the French keeper: through on the right wing, Patrick Vieira forcefully challenged his marker, won the rebound and sent in a low cross for Esteban Cambiasso. The short-range assist was an unmissable invitation for the Argentine, which put his team in the lead with an easy finish. 1-0 Inter.

Applause from Nerazzurri stands rapidly turned into boos, at the announcement of Christian Vieri’s entrance (on for Pazzini). Evidently, the  Inter to AC Milan transfer by Bobo hasn’t left many good memories among the San Siro faithful (the Nerazzurri part); in fact, the latter could have been even angrier a few minutes from the end, had Vieri’s short-range header resulted into a goal for Fiorentina (Julio Cesar was however reactive to parry away the danger). Before that happened though, Inter had had time to increase their lead and put their victory on ice: Julio Cruz and Mario Balotelli combined to send the youngster through, and there was little Frey could do this time to stop him. 2-0 Inter and game over. The 4-point lead over Roma is intact… for now.

Inter defender Maicon (left) tries to stop Fiorentina's Riccardo Montolivo (Inter Milan vs. Fiorentina, Serie A Matchday 33, April 13, 2008)

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F.C. Internazionale Milano
INTER-FIORENTINA
2-0
[Match Highlights]
 ACF Fiorentina
GOALSCORERS: 10’ Cambiasso (I), 62’ Balotelli (I)
INTER (4-3-1-2): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Burdisso, Materazzi (72′ Chivu), Maxwell – Vieira, Cambiasso, J.Zanetti – Stankovic (89’ Figo) – Balotelli (77’ Cesar), Cruz. (bench: Toldo, Crespo, Maniche, Suazo). Coach: R.Mancini.
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Frey – Jorgensen, Ujfalusi, Gamberini, Gobbi – Kuzmanovic, Liverani (78’ Osvaldo ), Montolivo (71’ Pasqual) – Santana, Pazzini (56’ Vieri), Mutu. (bench: Avramov, Dainelli, Potenza, Da Costa). Coach: Prandelli.

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Juventus 3-2 AC Milan: Top Top Stuff in Turin, ‘Brazzo’ Sinks the Rossoneri (Serie A Matchday 33)

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Juventus vs. AC Milan (Serie A)

Serie AWhoever said Serie A isn’t entertaining? Amidst all the praise the English Premier League’s been getting this year, it is truly refreshing to see a match like Saturday’s Juventus vs. AC Milan: pure spectacle and a delight to watch, a game during which the two teams openly attacked each other and played to score. It should come as no surprise, based on these premises, that a total of 5 goals were scored at the Stadio Olimpico of Turin tonight, which also highlights the main difference between today and the 0-0 from the ‘first leg’ (played back in December at San Siro). Back then, Bianconeri and Rossoneri had essentially played to avoid conceding any.

But coming back to the subject at hand: today’s match. At the end of the night, the match-winners for Juve Saturday can be easily identified in three players: Alessandro Del Piero (33 years old and in absolutely stunning condition… Donadoni take notes), Momo Sissoko (recovering a countless amount of balls) and Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic, the unlikely hero of Turin and author of his first Serie A double. As for AC Milan, the Rossoneri played a good game throughout (especially in the first half), but paid once again a heavy price for their weak defensive ability on high balls, as well as being forced to play the last 20 minutes of the match short-handed (deserved red card for Daniele Bonera).

Alessandro Del Piero celebrates after scoring the opener vs. AC Milan (Juventus vs. AC Milan, Serie A Matchday 33, April 12, 2008)

Serie A Matchday 33 - Juventus 3-2 Milan

Tactically, both managers had to deal with some important absences for today’s match. Claudio Ranieri was without midfield-dynamo Pavel Nedved and passing specialist Cristiano Zanetti, thus opting for his classical 4-4-2 but with Tiago replacing the Italian in the center and Hasan Salihamidzic the Czech Before the match, Alessandro Del Piero’s (center) 553rd match with Juventus is acknowledged by Gaetano Scirea’s wife (left) and son (Juventus vs. AC Milan, Serie A Matchday 33, April 12, 2008)winger on the left. Milan however, was in way deeper trouble with almost their entire defensive line-up injured (Jankulovkski) or suspended (Nesta, Kaladze). Thus, Ancelotti fielded the Bonera-Simic-Maldini-Favalli line, and relied on the offensive abilities of the Kaká-Seedorf-Inzaghi trio to bring in the bacon (aka the goals).

Before the match, Juventus skipper Alessandro Del Piero was honored by the wife and son of the late Gaetano Scirea, 1982 World Cup Champion and renowned Juve legend back in the 80′s. For someone who just broke the record of 553 caps with the Bianconeri, Del Piero sure knows how to celebrate appropriately: on the first chance of the night, the Juve skipper exploited a good Camoranesi through ball and beat Kalac with a soft, but dead-accurate shot on the far post. 1-0 Juventus.

Joy for the home team was however short-lived, because no sooner had AC Milan kicked off that Buffon was picking the ball from the back of his net. The Rossoneri left side (and thus by corollary, Juve’s right side, ergo Grygera’s) Pippo Inzaghi picks up Daniele Bonera’s pass and scores the 2-1 goal for AC Milan (Juventus vs. AC Milan, Serie A Matchday 33, April 12, 2008)had been a constant source of danger for the Juve keeper, and it was precisely from there that the Milan tying goal arrived, Kaká got through, provoked Chiellini before going deep towards the goal line, then put the ball across for an unmissable chance for Filippo Inzaghi. 1-1, with Super Pippo missing another sitter just a moments earlier.

From then on, the Rossoneri really started to dominate the play and at the half-hour mark, went ahead: as Daniele Bonera exchanged passes with Ambrosini on the edge of the box, the Juve backline missed their offside trap and allowed the Milan defender through on goal. Buffon came out to challenge, but could not prevent the cushy assist for Pippo Inzaghi, who didn’t need an invitation for seconds. 2-1 Milan.

What could have turned into a decidedly sour night for the Bianconeri (the 38th-minute volley from Kaká –saved by Buffon– testament to that fact) actually Hasan Salihamdizic picks up David Trezeguet’s rebound and scores. 2-2! (Juventus vs. AC Milan, Serie A Matchday 33, April 12, 2008)turned into a “call for arms”: before the break, Juventus re-established the tie in pure goal-poaching fashion. Del Piero seemingly lost the ball slipping on the right wing, but got back up and stole it away from Maldini, setting up Mauro Camoranesi for the cross. The Italo-Argentine’s delivery found the header of David Trezeguet, on which Zeljko Kalac made an instinctive save. Hasan Salihamdizic was however close-by to apply the finish, and Juve were back in contention. 2-2 at the break.

In the second half, Juventus really upped the tempo: Zdenek Grygera showcased the full extent of his long-range shooting abilities (the goal vs. Genoa comes back to mind) by forcing Kalac to deflect an absolute stormer from 40 yards, then 10 minutes later Guglielmo Stendardo‘s (on for the injured Legrottaglie) diving header nearly connected with a Sissoko cross from the right. On the latter chance, the deflection of Daniele Bonera was capital, and the Milan center-back was really turning into a match protagonist tonight. For better (for the aforementioned clearance and the first-half assist to Inzaghi), but also for worse: in the 66th minute, a killer-challenge on the ankle of Sissoko cost Bonera a direct red, leaving Milan to play the remainder of the match with 10 men.

Hasan Salihamdzic jumps up for the header and gives Juve the win. 3-2! (Juventus vs. AC Milan, Serie A Matchday 33, April 12, 2008)Ancelotti reacted by replacing Inzaghi with Cafu, and for a while it seemed as if Milan could weather the storm. Until minute 80 that is, when yet another set piece opportunity cost them the game. The foul by Maldini on Grygera was, it must be said, quite doubtful, but irrespective of that fact, a team of AC Milan’s caliber simply cannot get away from allowing Hasan Salihamidzic to connect with Camoranesi’s cross completely unmarked, and comfortably put his team in the lead. 3-2 Juventus with 10 minutes to go.

The match virtually ended there, despite the 5 minutes of added time and the desperate attempts of Milan trying to find the equalizer before the full time whistle (Kalac was even making runs forward). At the end of the night, Champions League qualification for next season looks more and more certain for Juve and more and more of a dream for Milan…

Juventus players celebrate (Juventus vs. AC Milan, Serie A Matchday 33, April 12, 2008)

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 Juventus F.C.
JUVENTUS-MILAN
3-2
[Match Highlights]
A.C. Milan
GOALSCORERS: 12’ Del Piero (J), 14’, 31’ F.Inzaghi (M), 45’, 80’ Salihamidzic (J)
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Grygera, Legrottaglie (50‘ Stendardo), Chiellini, Molinaro– Camoranesi (90’ Nocerino), Sissoko, Tiago, Salihamidzic – Del Piero, Trezeguet (75’ Iaquinta). (bench: Belardi, Birindelli, Marchionni, Palladino). Coach: Ranieri.
MILAN (4-3-2-1): Kalac – Bonera, Simic, Maldini, Favalli – Gattuso (82’ Gilardino), Pirlo (88’ Brocchi), Ambrosini – Kaká, Seedorf – F.Inzaghi (66’ Cafu). (bench: Dida, Digao, Gourcuff, Paloschi). Coach: Ancelotti.

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Italian Players Around the World (7/04)

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Continuing my weekly article inspired by Gazzetta dello Sport, here are the performances of all Italian soccer players operating in foreign European leagues.

Stefano Napoleoni, age 21, Widzew Lodz striker

Based on Gazzetta’s info, there are currently 22 Italians playing in first divisions abroad, and 14 of them stepped on the field this week-end.

The table below includes the team the player belongs to, their opponents for the week, the number of minutes they played, their contribution (goal, assist), and the final score of the game.
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ENGLAND
Player Team Opp.
mins.
Contrib.
Score
Carlo Cudicini Chelsea @Man City
90
/
2-0
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SCOTLAND
Massimo Donati Celtic Motherwell
69
/
0-1
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GERMANY
Luca Toni Bayern M. Bochum
90
/
3-1
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SPAIN
Fabio Cannavaro Real Madrid @Mallorca
90
/
1-1
Giuseppe Rossi Villareal @Sevilla
90
/
0-2
Christian Abbiati Atl. Madrid Almeria
90
/
6-3
Gianluca Zambrotta Barcelona Getafe
90
/
0-0
Enzo Maresca Sevilla Villareal
(susp.)
/
2-0
Morgan De Sanctis Sevilla Villareal
(bench)
/
2-0
Emiliano Moretti Valencia @Murcia
90
/
0-1
Stefano Sorrentino Recreativo @Osasuna
90
/
1-0
Damiano Tommasi Levante Valladolid
(injd.)
/
0-3
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FRANCE
Fabio Grosso Lyon @Marseille
90
/
1-3
Flavio Roma Monaco @Strasbourg
90
/
2-0
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HOLLAND
Graziano Pellè AZ Alkmaar @VVV Venlo
45
/
3-2
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BELGIUM
Roberto Mirri Mons @Cercle Brüg.
90
/
0-0
Alessandro Pistone Mons @Cercle Brüg.
90
/
0-0
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SWITZERLAND
Stefano Razzetti St. Gallen @Xamax
(bench)
/
0-1
Andrea Guatelli FC Zürich @Sion
(bench)
/
3-3
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POLAND
Stefano Napoleoni Widzew Łódź J. Bialystok
90
2 goals
2-0
Joseph Oshadogan Widzew Łódź J. Bialystok
(N/A)
/
2-0
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RUSSIA
Ivan Pelizzoli Lok. Moscow @Saturn
(stands)
/
2-1

 

Heroes of the week

So… Toni’s keeping quiet these days (he’s playing well, but not scoring), Rossi’s Villareal lost to Sevilla (so no goals for him), and our usual segment protagonists are absent. This week, to find our ‘Hero of the Week’ we have to travel to Poland, where a certain Mr. Napoleoni has finally been making a name for himself.

Stefano Napoleoni, age 21Indeed, “Napo-gol” is on fire! Widzew Łódź hosted Jagiellonia Bialystok this week, for a 14th vs. 10th-ranked showdown (yeah, needless to point out that Widzew Łódź isn’t doing too well in the Orange Ekstraklasa this season). Regardless of his team’s ranking however, Stefano Napoleoni grabbed the match by the reins and scored a vital double last week-end, hopefully enough to keep his team off the relegation zone. Things are looking up for Napoleoni, who has now earned a starting role in the team and become the supporters’ idol..

PSV Eindhoven 0-2 Fiorentina: La Viola Turns On the Style in Holland and Qualifies for the Semi-Finals (UEFA Cup Quarter-Finals, Leg 2)

Friday, April 11th, 2008

PSV Eindhoven vs. Fiorentina (UEFA Cup)

Eindhoven seems to bring good luck to Italians: just a few weeks ago, their swimming team raided the medal cabinet at the 2008 Euro championships. Earlier this decade, another ‘Azzurri’ squad managed to beat Euro 2000 hosts Holland and qualify for the tournament final, after an astonishing match during which Francesco Toldo (at the time playing for… Fiorentina) saved not one, not two, but three penalty shots.

Today, it was Fiorentina‘s turn to find glory in the Dutch city (including the penalty shot-saving part): La Viola came, saw, and conquered a completely transformed PSV team, a mere shadow of the squad who had given them so much trouble in Firenze. For Prandelli and his boys, this victory comes as a welcome surprise during difficult times, especially because of their not-so-brilliant moment of form in Serie A. More than a victory however, this was a convincing display by Fiorentina, who dominated the game technically and physically from start to finish. Adrian Mutu scored two, but the goaltotal could have been much more severe for PSV.

Adrian Mutu celebrates his goal vs. PSV Eindhoven (UEFA Cup Quarter-Finals, PSV Eindhoven vs. Fiorentina)

UEFA Cup - Quarter-Finals, Leg 2 - PSV Eindhoven 0-2 Fiorentina

Much like Cesare Prandelli had instructed his boys, Fiorentina began today’s match without any inhibitions: to earn the ticket to the UEFA Cup Semi-Final round, a goal was necessary and La Viola wanted to get it, and get it early. On their end, the Dutch public of Philips Stadion really made its presence heard, trying to motivate their team and compensate for the absence of young playmaker Ibrahim Afellay (you know, the guy that had given Frey and his defence so much trouble last week).

Adrian Mutu (left) celebrates with Gianpaolo Pazzini (UEFA Cup Quarter-Finals, PSV Eindhoven vs. Fiorentina)After a few minutes of observation, Fiorentina came swinging by Gomes’s box and started giving the Brazilian PSV keeper a few scares. First Alessandro Gamberini (sending a free header wide) then Gianpaolo Pazzini (weak shot from a good position) had their chance, to which PSV replied with the long-range attempts by Danny Koevermans and the speedy runs forward by Otman Bakkal. Sebastien Frey (helped by Tomas Ujfalusi) kept close guard.

Eventually, 7 minutes from the break Fiorentina went ahead, and did so in stunning fashion through their nº10 player. Adrian Mutu received a short touch from Liverani on a 30m free-kick, and slammed an unstoppable surface-to-air missile on which Gomes did not even attempt to dive. 1-0 Fiorentina, and deservedly so based on the play thus far.

In the second half, PSV came back on the field with guns blazing, but La Viola’s defense held tight, and was immediately ready to set off dangerous counter-attacks forward. It only took 8 minutes after the break for Fiorentina to double their lead, exploiting precisely one of these counters: Martin Jorgensen stole the ball from Lazovic and launched a long pass forward for Gianpaolo Pazzini; the Viola striker tried to beat Gomes between the legs  but the keeper parried, only to send the ball as far as Adrian Mutu, who had little trouble finishing into the empty net. 2-0 Fiorentina, and game virtually on ice.

Sebastien Frey saves Timmy Simons’s penalty kick (UEFA Cup Quarter-Finals, PSV Eindhoven vs. Fiorentina)To qualify PSV now had to score three goals, but the team had evidently taken a big knock to morale. Fiorentina continued to push forward and came very close to making it 3-0: Riccardo Montolivo saw his first strike denied by a fingertip save of Gomes, then on his second (a lovely chip from outside the box) the PSV keeper found the welcome help of his crossbar. Fiorentina were putting on a show, and there was little their opponents could do to stop them.

Eventually, the Viola fury calmed down and PSV were allowed to come back a little. In the final minutes, the host team obtained a (rather generous) penalty kick for an Ujfalusi push on Lazovic, but Saint Frey was determined to keep a clean sheet tonight, and brilliantly parried away Timmy Simons’s spot-shot. There was time for a brief Bobo Vieri appearance before the match ended, but there was little left to put in the highlights reel. Fiorentina walked away 2-0 victors, and will be facing Glasgow Rangers in the UEFA Cup Semi-Finals on April 24. If they play with the same quality as they did tonight though, Fiorentina should have little trouble against the soon-to-be Scottish Premier League champions.

Fiorentina players celebrate their victory (UEFA Cup Quarter-Finals, PSV Eindhoven vs. Fiorentina)

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 PSV Eindhoven
PSV- FIORENTINA
0-2
[Match Highlights]
 ACF Fiorentina
GOALSCORERS: 38’, 53’ Mutu (F)
PSV EINDHOVEN (4-4-2): Gomes – Kronkamp, Marcellis, Salcido, Rajkovic – Méndez (83’ Zonneveld), Culina (78’ Vayrynen), Simons, Bakkal (46’ Lazovic) – Koevermans, Dzsudzsak. (bench: Roorda, Alcides, E.Addo, Zeefuik). Coach: Vergoossen.
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Frey – Jorgensen, Gamberini, Ujfalusi, Gobbi – Donadel, Liverani, Montolivo – Santana (78’ Kuzmanovic), Pazzini (73’ Vieri), Mutu (86’ Osvaldo). (bench: Avramov, Kroldrup, Dainelli, Pasqual). Coach: Prandelli.

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MISN – Winter Lachine 07-08 QUARTER-FINALS (vs. Kelly’s Leg)

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Ricard, unofficial sponsor of MISN Impossible

MISN? What’s this?

Hello MISN,

On Saturday April 12th we played game the QUARTER-FINALS of the Winter 2007-08 Lachine indoor league, vs. Kelly’s Leg.

Well here it was, the culmination of all our year’s efforts: PLAYOFF time. I guess it would be appropriate at a time like this, to say that MISN Impossible‘s aspirations early in the season were fairly big, and essentially included ranking top of the league standings in Division 2. Unfortunately some mid-season accidents (poor performances coupled with injury) made our team lose a few points too many, and eventually turned MISN’s league champions aspirations to dust: we finished the season in 3rd place, behind champions mtlsoccer.com and runners-up Spartans.

In Lachine league however, there are two trophies handed out each year: one for the regular season, and one for playoffs. Ever since we had lost hope of winning the former, our full efforts concentrated on the latter, and the last few games of the season (the successive wins vs. Wood Gundy (5-4), Kelly’s Leg (6-2), Ericsson (3-0), and then 1st-ranked Spartans (3-2)) were a strong indicator that our team had turned it around and had what it takes to be successful.

Our opponents for today’s first round of playoffs were Kelly’s Leg, a team which had finished regular season at 6th spot of the Division 2 standings, with 78 goals scored and 63 conceded. Our two previous encounters this season saw us defeated 1-0 in the first leg, then victorious 6-2 in the second leg (a game during which we went down two goals, and came back from behind in stunning fashion). We were thus at a slight advantage based on previous match history, but for playoffs it would be anyone’s game. There was no doubt in our minds that our opponents would come at us with a lot more determination, and we had to stay vigilant!

Attendance-wise, we were still facing with some injury problems unfortunately. Kevin was out for rest of the season on account of his wrist fracture, while Santi was still recovering from damaged ligaments. In addition, some druken-state acrobatics (yes, MISN players know how to party) had caused Eric to injure his ankle pretty bad, rendering our Canadian center-back unavailable for today’s match. In addition, Marco, Can, and Alex were just recovering from a busy week of McGill Intramurals (and alas, two lost finals) while Tim was struggling with some not-fully-healed ankle problems… Not the most ideal situation.

Bottom line: we were 10 players for today, 7 starters and 3 substitutes. On the side of good news though, capitaine Tevin came back from the land of the dead (along with Kevin) and dropped by to show his support! 

1) Absent long-term: /
2) Injured long-term: Tevin, Güven, Santi, Kevin
3) N/A this week: Santi, Eric

Here was our line-up:

Keeper:
Jan
Defense:
Bruno
Jon / Marco
Alex
Offense:
Can / Tim
Bardia
Nafee / Saber

We started the game on a low pace, as some of us weren’t “out there” mentally (still tired from midweek efforts, or psychologically not ready). Unfortunately, our lack of awareness immediately cost us an early goal, right from the start! A Kelly’s Leg player was allowed to send in a cross-shot from the right wing, Jan came down to dive but couldn’t control the ball. On came another Kelly’s Leg player, to tackle the ball into the roof of the net. 0-1.

We had been caught with our pants down, and now were trailing early into the match. Not the most ideal situation, but we didn’t give in and immediately started working to get back. The Kelly’s Leg defenders were however keeping close guard, and our players had considerable trouble getting the shots in. Midway through the half, Can sent a long ball over the defense for Saber, who chested it and poked it on the run… right on the post! A few minutes later, Marco received the ball on the right wing, immediately crossed it to the opposite side for Bruno, who took the shot on the volley. Narrowly wide!! Oh so close…

We had a few more attempts from long range (Jon and Nafee notably), but without any luck. We weren’t giving our best, and our plays suffered: with the close marking of the Kelly’s Leg defenders, we needed to keep our passes short and open up more, in order to create space. In particular, we needed to be vigilant in defense because on a few too many opportunities, our opponents could have increased their lead, had it not been for some last-ditch defending or off-the-mark shooting. The half ended with Kelly’s Leg leading by one, and everything still left to play for in the second.

After the break, our passing game considerably improved, and by extension our scoring chances. A good pass from midfield sent Can clear on the left wing, with plenty of time & space to run at goal. Spotting Saber unmarked to the to the right, our Turkish striker fed him the ball, and all Saber had to do was control and slam a powerful shot inside the right post for the tying goal! 1-1!

The goal revamped our spirits, and we came back assaulting our opponents’ net. Nafee and Alex had a few tries from mid-range (wide or saved ), until eventually a good passing combo on the right wing sent our players in the clear, ready to put the ball across goal for Saber in front of the net! Our Algerian forward tapped the ball low below the Kelly’s Leg keeper, and put MISN in the lead for the first time! 2-1 MISN!

Unfortunately, that lead didn’t last very long. A few minutes later, a Kelly’s Leg forward controlled the ball in midfield, dribbled one of our players and sent the ball through to his team-mate. Getting on the edge of the box, the Kelly’s Leg striker armed a shot which Jan couldn’t reach, and the ball entered the goal on his left. 2-2.

So once again, we had conceded an avoidable goal and put ourselves under pressure. Unlike the first half however, during this period of play we had been dominating our opponents, and that was going to prove key in re-establishing our lead. Can had a good chance from short range (saved by the keeper), Marco attempted a one-timer from 25 yards (miles over the bar), until finally MISN went ahead again. Taking the ball on the left, and turning around to evaluate his options, Saber spotted the central run of Alex and slid him the ball. Our Greek defender waited for the ball to arrive before attempting an instep shot: the Kelly’s Leg keeper got a hand to it, but could only parry it in the path of Bardia, who then deposited the ball into the empty net. 3-2 MISN!

We were now back in lead with about 5-10 minutes to go. Kelly’s Leg started to really push forward in numbers, and our defense had to withstand the pressure. Fortunately, our opponents were never really allowed to get in a clear shot and when they did, Marco or Jon were there to get in the way.

Eventually, with the majority of their defenders pushing up, some good work by Nafee sent Tim clear on the left wing, who then waited for Can to arrive on the opposite side to slide him the ball. Easy tap-in, 4-2 MISN, and game virtually sealed. The ref called full time shortly after, sending MISN through to the semi-finals!!
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.MISN Impossible 4-2 Kelly's Leg

4-2 final score

Scorers:
Saber (2)
Bardia
Can

Yellow cards:
Marco.
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.
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A good turn-around performance boys! We started off the wrong foot in the first period, went one goal down but didn’t give up our efforts, and were eventually rewarded in the second half. We should try to keep a tighter lock on our defense however, as we always seem to concede silly goals which could be prevented.

The draw for the Semi-Final round hasn’t been made yet, but with the surprise elimination of 2nd-ranked Spartans by McKibbin’s Pub (yes, you’ve read that right!), it is very likely we will be playing the winner of Ericsson vs. FC Sorrento. Either way, it’ll be a tough match and we’ll have to keep our focus to make it to the final game!

GO MISN!!!! Two more games to the title!!

-Marco-