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Despite being in control for the majority of the match, last year’s runner-up, Senegal, struggled to find a goal until the final fifteen minutes of their clash against Colombia. However, when they did, the Senegalese proved why last year’s out-of-nowhere run was no fluke, as their 2-0 victory over Colombia sent a serious message that they could be on the way to back to the final.
In the early stages of the match, Senegal had a majority possession in Colombia’s half, but their shots never really came close to troubling the Colombian keeper. A line drive from Senegal forward Souleymane Kone from about 10 yards out in the 15th minute was probably the closest effort during the first half, but it was still a yard off the top left corner.
With Senegal controlling possession, Colombia was forced to resorted to long balls in a desperate attempt to get the ball into Senegal’s half. Right before halftime, Colombia’s Juan Palacios sent a long free kick right near the goal, but like most of their attempts in the first half, it was quickly swallowed up by the Senegalese defense.
After struggling to stay onside during a few breakaways, Senegal managed to get one ball behind the Colombian defense in the second half, but a cross to striker Elhadj Daoudo Diop was snagged by Colombia keeper Osvaldo Herrera before it could be tapped it in the net.
While Senegal remained aggressive in the second half, Colombia, on the other hand, changed tactics somewhat, suddenly seeming overcautious and playing for the draw, and they paid the price, giving up the ball on nearly all of their attacking forays.
In the 65th minute, Senegal executed a perfect freekick that found the head of a striker just 10 yards away from the net, but a great save by the keeper, Herrera prevented opening goal.
At this point, numerous injuries to both sides stalled the game repeatedly, but they were able to get up and continue playing without many substitutions.
Finally, a goal came in the 75th minute on a low flat corner from the left that Senegal forward Pape Thioune headed past the keeper just inside the right post on a full diving extension of his body.
With the lead, Senegal toned down some of the attacking play that had characterized their style for much of the game, finally allowing Colombia a chance to go on the attack. However, with nearly all 10 outfield players forward up field, Colombia’s defense was severely compromised, and they paid the price in the 89th minute with a beautiful bit of footwork as Senegal’s Djiby Gning ran downfield on a breakaway, cut back briefly to lose his defender and create some space, and then buried his shot from about 12 yards out inside the right post to effectively end the game at 2-0 and book Senegal’s spot in the Semifinals.
NYC Poland defeated a depleted NYC USA 4-3 in an exhilarating match that will go down in Cosmos Copa history as one of the most exciting matches ever played. It was an open end-to-end match that was entertaining for the neutral but left both coaches pulling their hair out due to some supsect defending.
Christopher Karcz opened the scoring for Poland midway through the first half after a sloppy giveaway form Patrick White that allowed the striker a few yards of space to set himself up for a shot. His ensuing strike from 20 yards out was hit with such ferocity that the keeper was left helpless as he watched the ball fire into the top corner of the net. It was a class goal from one of the classiest players in the tournament
However, just as Poland seemed like going up another goal, the United States re-focused themselves and began to grab control of the match. They nearly equalized when Chris Bayon’s curling pass reached Brian Kuritzky, only for his first touch to let him down from about eight yards out.
With Poland suddenly onDaniel Riso made up of for Kuritzky’s missed opportunity after Chris Bayon laid a ball off for him at the top of the box, where he buried a pile driving shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net, leaving the keeper flat-footed, without a chance at making a save.
As the United States continued to push forward, the halftime whistle cut short their momentum, much to the Polish coach’s pleasure as he began to scorn his players for, what he considered, a disappointing first half performance.
The United States came out in the second half with the same amount of intensity that they ended the first half with. Chris Bayon nearly capitalized on his team’s superb play only for his headed effort to hit the crossbar.
Teddy Niziolek left the Americans lamenting Bayon’s miss just a couple of minutes later though after he controlled a lofted ball from a free kick in the 6-yard box and calmly slotted past the keeper, inching the Poles closer to their third consecutive semi-final appearance.
However, showing incredible resolve and ability to fight adversity, the US drew level just five minutes after Niziolek’s goal. The goal was created by a sublime piece of skill from Kuritzky where he flicked the ball over a defender before sending in a low, volleyed cross that Bayon easily tapped past the keeper.
Fighting all the odds and playing with exactly eleven men and no subs, the United States extended their remarkable run and took the lead after they earned a penalty that Chris Bayon converted with consummate ease. After Bayon’s clinical finish, the Polish bench stood silent in utter shock, totally bewildered at how they were losing a match that they were expected to run away with.
Nevertheless, the stunned Poles were given merit to celebrate just a minute after Bayon’s go-ahead goal when Damian Serafin’s low, curling effort found the corner of the net from just outside the box.
Karcz added a bit more craziness to an already epic match when he scored Poland’s fourth goal after sneaking past three US defenders before sliding the ball into the back of the net. His effort proved to be the match winner, sending the admirable Americans home packing, while extending Poland’s unprecedented attempt at a third Cosmos Copa title.
Cosmos Copa saw its first shootout of the tournament, and they certainly didn’t disappoint, as Bolivia prevailed 5-4 on penalty kicks after initially blowing a 2-0 lead.
Play started out slow, as each team seemed somewhat tentative, and the skilled defenses of each side prevented many balls from getting anywhere near the keeper.
However, that changed in the 22nd minute, when Bolivian wunderkind forward Kevin Riveros, one of the rising stars of this year’s Copa, took a short pass from Diego Oña and a few stutter steps to gather space. Now finding himself centered and about 15 yards out, he wondrously bent a shot inside the right post, immediately eliciting a huge roar from the Bolivian bench and hugs all around from his adoring teammates.
He followed that up just two minutes later with a remarkably similar strike from the exact same location. Greece, still somewhat dejected after conceding the first goal, let their attention lapse on defense. After receiving a pass inside the box, Riveros performed multiple step overs to shake the slower Greek defenders, suddenly giving himself tons of space in a once-crowded box. He then buried a low direct shot in from the center of the box just inside the left post to give Bolivia a two-goal lead.
Riveros was a constant thorn in the side of the Greek defense all day and he certainly justified the pregame hype.
Later in the half, the match really opened up. In the 40th minute, Hrisostomos Maniatis sent a nice cross that was headed just over the bar, but the Bolivian keeper, Marco Ortiz really didn’t have much work to do in the first half until the final minutes, when he saved two Greek shots in traffic.
Greece was visibly upset coming into the half and very frustrated by the two goals they had allowed in quick succession, but they quickly turned that around.
In the 56th minute, Greece forward Georgi Spanos had a perfectly timed run on a breakaway, giving him about 15 yards of real estate all on his own with just the keeper to beat. He timed his shot perfectly, releasing the ball just before he met the goalie and getting just enough space to squeeze it inside the right post to cut the score to 2-1.
Greece nearly tied the game in similar rapid back-to-back fashion on the next possession, but a shot went just over the goal.
In the 79th minute, a Bolivia free kick was nearly headed in from just in front of the goal, but the Greek keeper tapped it over the top of the cross bar just before it crossed the line.
Greece began to get desperate in looking for the equalizer, and they found their miracle in the 90th minute, when Greek forward Panagiotis Halkidis was taken down in the box to draw a penalty kick.
Knowing the game rested on his foot, Halkidis lined up for the penalty and buried it coolly in the right post, tying the game at 2-2 with virtually the last play of regular time and sending it to Penalty Kicks.
In Penalty Kicks, Greece’s John Koutsounadis and Bolivia’s Julio Cesar Nosta each went to the top right to make it 1-1. However, Greece’s Stelios Andreou put his next shot off the crossbar, in what would be the only miss of penalty kicks. Then Bolivia’s Rene Llanos shot it to the right to make it 2-1.
Greece’s Alex Damianou tapped it down the middle, and Bolivia’s Luis Carlos Berejano hit his shot slightly to the right, making it 3-2.
Spanos finally went to the left and Bolivia’s Oña followed him to the top left corner, making it 4-3.
Greece’s Halkidis, then kicked his team’s fifth penalty to the right to tie it at 4-4, but the Greeks needed a save to stay alive.
Bolivia’s Luis Eduardo Martinez lined up and buried his shot in the top right corner. He did a backflip in celebration and all of his teammates and coaches did massive dogpile on him. His clutch penalty clinched a spot in the semifinals for Bolivia and sent his team's supporters into ecstasy.
NYC Haiti defeated NYC Jamaica 2-0 in their ‘All-Caribbean’ quarterfinal clash that will send the Haitians to their first ever semi-final appearance at Cosmos Copa.
The first 45 minutes of the match saw the most open and free-flowing match thus far at this year’s tournament. Whether it was the Haitians impressive lofted diagonal balls or the Jamaicans quick one touch passing in the middle of the park, the speed of play in the first half was exceptional.
Haiti got off to a blazing start with impressive wing play from Elysee Vilsaint. One of his many early crosses into the box nearly set up the first goal of the match but Fritzon Jean Baptiste’s downward header bounced over the bar.
Jamaica answered the Haitian’s intensity with an impressive display themselves as the midfield play of Jefferson Hinds created dangerous holes in the Haitian defense. Hind's clever play almost allowed the Jamaicans to take an early lead but Jermaine Hardy’s shot missed high.
Later into the half, with barely five minutes remaining, Yvener Guerrier had a golden chance to put his team a goal up going into the interval but he hit his header over the crossbar, much to the dismay of the animated Haitian bench.
As the halftime whistle blew, both teams jogged off in high spirits as they both put on an exceptional and classy first half display.
Coming out of the halftime break, Guerrier had a chance to redeem himself from his earlier miss, but he miss-hit his volley and it sliced wide of the target. However, the physical striker’s chance would be one of many in what would be a fanatical second half.
Five minutes after his second missed opportunity, Guerrier seemed to make up for his previous mistakes but his goal was called back for offside, much to the dismay of the players on the pitch.
The Haitian onslaught on the Jamaican goal continued as Gwemsley Joseph was played through on goal but he scuffed his off balance shot wide from eight yards out.
Guerrier, probably at a loss of confidence after a rough first sixty, had yet another clear look at goal, but he decided to cut inside and lay the ball off to Vilsaint, whose ensuing shot was blocked by a Jamaican defender.
Just three minutes later, Jamaica looked certain to finally break the deadlock as Damion James found himself five feet in front of goal with the goal at his mercy, but he somehow missed wide, sending the Jamaican bench into yelps of frustration.
About 15 minutes from time, after so many near misses, Haiti finally found a breakthrough when Herold Junior Charles managed to direct his shot into the net after a maddening scuffle in the box. The Haitian bench erupted in screams of pure joy and rushed the pitch as if they had just scored a golden goal in a cup final.
After a frantic last ten minutes that saw the exceptional Haitian backline duo of Ricardo Ade and Reginald Joseph win almost every aerial ball that came there way, Charles finally put the game away when he raced down the field on a breakaway, dribbled around the defenseless keeper, and passed the ball into the back of the net, completing a memorable brace.