Solis, Kumbha 1, 2077, m249
Today' battle for the last ticket to the MAFL finals became a high powered shoot-out between the league’s top two scoring teams. In the regular season, Al’amal scored 36 goals vs the Comets’ 34 goals.
It took just one minute of play for the scoring to begin; a deep cross from Mussadiq Baddour from the left flank was met by Hamad Fayad who crushed a volley into the top corner past Zaida Agre.
Al’amal 1 Comets 0.
Earlier this week, it was unclear if Agre would be fit to return for the semi-final match after sustaining injury in the final regular season match against the Titans. But before any uncertainty could set in, Comets Kemina De Marco would respond just minutes later with the equalizer.
Al’amal 1 Comets 1.
And the goals kept coming.
Stephen Liu, MAFL Defender of the Year, won the ball from Mahmood Rahimjust outside the penalty area and unleashed a shot into the top far corner for the go ahead goal.
Comets 2 Al’amal 1.
After such a blistering start to the match with three goals in the first six minutes, the pace slowed down, until the Comets dialled up the offence at the 15th minute mark. After Liu intercepted a weak clearing attempt from Lana Gonzalez, he moved into the penalty area and hit an powerful low shot into the far corner for his second goal of the match.
Comets 3 Al’amal 1.
Right off the ensuing kickoff, the Comets Aba Samma met a deep cross from Liu and back-heeled it past a hapless al-Pour.
Comets 4 Al’amal 1.
With an endless barrage from the Comets, it was fortunate Al'amal was able to hold the rest of the half with just a three goal deficit.
During the halftime interval, Al’amal manager Haajid Nasr tried to motivate and reinvigorate his squad. When play resumed, he switched strategy from a balanced attack to a more aggressive strategy, borrowing a page from Paulo Salgado’s move that lead to yesterday's Titans come-from-behind victory.
But alas, that was yesterday.
Today, that move backfired as the Comets exploited their deficient defensive coverage. It took only 4 minutes for Luz Obregón to surge past the shallow defence and connect with a pass from Bradley, which he finished with an acrobatic bicycle kick over a leaping al-Pour.
Comets 5 Al’amal 1.
9 minutes into the 2nd half, Liu gave the Al’amal defence the runaround and beat al-Pour once more to complete his hat-trick.
Comets 6 Al’amal 1.
The Comets started to tighten their defence, nursing their lead.
Desperate to instill some life in his team, al-Pour boosted a charged kick that sailed across the field, landed just past the Comets’ penalty area where it took a freakish bounce past Agre and into the net.
Comets 6 Al’amal 2.
Just 15 minutes later, Fayad found another opportunity to close the gap. Dragging the ball behind his planted foot with the inside of his crossing foot, he turned and accelerated away from Liu before slotting home Al’amal’s third goal of the match.
Comets 6 Al’amal 3.
With 20 minutes remaining Al’amal’s poured on the offense with two near scoring chances – one over the Comets net, and another that went wide.
At the 84th minute, Bradley, Liu and Samma drove in the final dagger to shatter any home for an Al'amal comback. With intricate passing around the edge of the penalty area, Bradley set up Samma, who placed a clean into the Al’amal goal.
Final: Comets 7 Al’amal 3.
“Titans said they owned us in the regular season,” said Bradley. “But the past is the past. It will only take one win next week for them to eat those words. Based on today’s match, I like our chances."
Next week, Comet's make the Journey to San Olympus Park for the first MAFL Championship Match!