Strikers FC secured a hard-fought 2-1 win over Malaga at Parker Avenue, Portrush to finish third in the Premier Section Globe.
The first half started rather gently, with both sides stroking the ball about confidently. But Malaga were more dominant in possession and they had the first effort on goal, with Jorge Rodriguez firing over. The Malaga centre defender Yousef Munoz was particularly impressive, receiving and giving the ball out calmly from the back. But the Strikers still managed to trouble the Spanish side at times, Chris Cuyuch trying his luck from distance and Charlie Wehan prompting the Malaga keeper Javier Palomo to come out and deny him with a slide tackle.
Jose Avellaneda cut in on his left foot for Malaga but shot straight at keeper Daniel Ziv and Rodriguez curled a long range effort around the far post after driving in from the right. The last chance of the half fell to the Striker’s Wehan, who ran through the middle of the pitch on the break and hit a poor shot, even though he had plenty of options to his left and right. But the teams went into half-time level.
The opening goal arrived mere seconds into the second half – Malaga kicked off, lost possession and Christian Bond-Fiasza found himself in behind the defence where he finished to put the Strikers in front. Malaga responded well to going behind, Ziv punching behind Lucas Ligio’s attempt and Rubén Barragan’s shot skimming the post. Ligio was untouchable for the Spanish, dictating play from the centre of midfield and pulling off tremendous tricks and flicks. For all their dominance, Malaga could not finish the chances they created and they were punished by the Americans midway through the half.
After a quick attack, the ball made its way to Wehan just inside the area who struck it hard into the bottom left corner. Again Malaga responded by producing an attacking onslaught as they pushed to try and get themselves back in the game. David Polson’s clearance was closed down by Francisco Valverdre, who managed to get a shot off but it was hooked well wide. Malaga finally found a way through with only a few minutes remaining of the match. After a long spell of possession, Rodriguez twisted and turned outside the box to rid himself of a couple of markers before having a shot, which took a deflection on its way into the net.
Now Malaga really upped the tempo in the last couple of minutes. Munoz came forward for a corner and he leapt above the defence but headed over. Munoz had another effort from near 30 yards out which skidded along the ground but failed to cause any problems for Ziv. The Strikers back line remained solid in time added on at the end and, in truth, rarely looked like conceding all game to a Malaga side that were wasteful on front of goal.
Match Report by Craig Latimer