Amrita - Aquarius 15, 2077, m249
In honour of the fallen – Silence. The calm before the storm.
And then there was Thunder and Lightning, as a torrential downpour of goals rained onto Amrita field.
And when everything stopped, Al’amal stood tall over the Immortals in a wildly entertaining 5 – 3 victory.
In a season, where some teams were increasingly dependent on playing systems that stifled rather than promoted creative talent, Al’amal and the Immortals delivered a refreshing reminder of how football is at its best when moments of individual brilliance shine.
And it was the Captains of both teams, the Immortals Uday Lanka and Al’amal’s Musaddiq Baddour that would lead that spark.
As he’s done all season, Lanka opened up scoring at the 4th minute. Lanka exchanged passes with Akkilic Tapur who then chipped a superb ball over the defence which set Lanka free to unleash a spectacular overhead kick over the goalkeeper for the first goal of the game.
Al’amal looked to respond quickly applying pressure before the Immortals Vivek Tagore dove in with a late tackle on Baddour to break up the play. Tagore was sent off with a red card.
Tagore’s desperate foul just delayed the inevitable as Baddour delivered the equalizer at the 10th minute. A well-worked move by Mahmood Ramin to Ikram Muhammad and then to Baddour allowed him to hook the ball in with his back to the goal. 1-1.
The Immortals took the lead again at the 38th minute as Lanka scored his 2nd goal of the game.
Ran Naik aimed a long pass from his own half at Lanka. Lanka cushioned the ball with wicked ease, used the sole of his boot to trap the bouncing ball and turned inside his marker in a single move. Before Al’amal had time to grasp the accuracy of Lanka’s control, Lanka bounced the ball up a second time and struck a sweet volley past the goalkeeper.
In a game of anything you can do, I can do better, Baddour matched Lanka with his 2nd goal of the game to equalize the score at the 55th minute.
When the Immortals defence failed to clear the ball out of their box, Baddour intercepted and unleashed a pile driver of a shot from 30 yards past the Immortals goalkeeper. 2-2.
And then what transpired next hinged on a moment of madness which some say was the turning point of the match. At the 59th minute, the referee missed what looked like a trip by Baddour on Lanka and shockingly punished Lanka with a yellow card for his “theatrical dive”.
An irate Lanka pleaded his case in vain to the ref-bot as Al’amal was awarded a free kick where Rashaa Adel curled a pinpoint shot into the top corner from 35 yards to take over the lead. Al’amal 3 Immortals 2
And when it rains, it pours.
Just five minutes later, still freshly fuming from his yellow card, Lanka got into another tangle resulting in a second caution, red carded. He was sent out, but not before giving ref-bot an 'accidental' nudge with his shoulder.
A penalty shot was awarded to Ramin and he delivered putting Al’amal up 4 -2.
That would be the difference maker.
Al’amal would add another goal at the 81st minute as Birwant Rahar ran from inside his own half and curled a low shot inside the far post. Al’amal 5 Immortals 2.
The Immortals’ Alan Fox closed the deficit at the 84th minute with a well-placed chip over the goalkeeper that dropped in off the underside of the crossbar. Al’amal 5 Immortals 3.
Too little, too late for the Immortals as they went down on their own home field.
“That was ridiculous”, screamed Immortals manager Andam Mirza after the match. “Lanka’s yellow card was their missed call and the second was clearly accidental. Because the ref and his stupid ref-bots can’t tell the difference between incidental and intentional, we lose this match.”
An ecstatic Al’amal team celebrated their victory in the locker room as their victory guaranteed them a playoff spot and the 3rd seed.
““They can blame the referees all they want but if you give up 5 goals in a game, you usually lose”, said Baddour. “Our team had to step up, especially without Farra and Fayad in thelineup, we did our best - we score goals. And that’s why we won.”