If you were expecting an ‘all-in’ game, last night Rumori Calcio vs. Ice Bears did not delude the expectations.
There was everything needed: sport drama, rain pouring, great goals and lucky ones.
Both sides put a lot of effort to avoid a loss that would have meant the automatic elimination from the ‘Grandliiga Cup’.
Compared to the game against FC Liikur, Rumori Calcio fielded new faces: Italian defender Samuele De Pizzol, midfielders Heliand Dema (Albania) and Deni Delev (Macedonia).
The theme of the game was already clear since the early minutes as the Ice Bears did not care so much about the build-up and enhanced a classical ‘hit-and-run’ football in the Estonian version. They basically gave up to any midfield to simply reach the strikers (usually one or two) with long balls. The conditions of the pitch (wet and slicky) did not favour this tactics as the ball travelled often much faster than it should have had.
Rumori offered a disciplined 3-2-1.
However, in second half, they realized there was no need for numerical superiority in the middle of the park and left a man behind two strikers, alternating Angelo Palmeri with Mustafa Celik and giving Giorgi Balakhadze a chance to go more deep in the defence of the greens.
The game started with a quick pace and Rumori Calcio scored the lead just after 6 minutes when Samuele De Pizzol put a perfect ball from set-piece for Archil Chochia header past Henri Hunt, the Ice Bears goalkeeper. It was a great way to start the evening for the guests and it looked like a prelude to the possibility of keep the game under control and scoring another few ones.
Instead, only three minutes later, nr.28, Indrek Surajev, found an incredible goal that was like a bucket of ice water on the heads of Rumori Calcio.
Busy in getting rid of De Pizzol’s control on the flank, he kicked the ball in the box before his fuel was over. The attempt looked more like a cross for the upcoming teammates than a shot on goal. However, the ball took a weird trajectory. Goalkeeper Andi Kasmi, assuming it might just slip over the bar or past the second post, let the ball fall down only to realize he had to pick it up from the back of the net. 1-1
With the rain starting to pour, the game took the features of proper Wednesday-night cup game when skills and technique clash with the hard conditions of a slick pitch. Considering this was artificial turf, the ball was often spurting very fast and accounting for both teams spending energies in controlling, especially Rumori Calcio.
The regular time (50 minutes) finished with Rumori Calcio unable to score a second goal. Good attempts on target by Balakhadze, Palmeri and Celik. Hunt, on a one-on-one chance, stopped the latter in the dying minutes of the second half.
Andi Kasmi managed to control all the remaining attempts by the Ice Bears who brought little danger as both Chochia and De Pizzol sealed the defensive wall with the help in turns of Palmeri, Dema and Delev.
When referee Andrei Brõtkin whistled the full time, the drama was brought forward to extra time. A drama in the drama, considering everything was due to be decided in 10 minutes (5 for each half) and the game looked already like a ‘who scores first, wins’.
In the first half Palmeri had a great chance to close the match when, after a nice combination Celik-Balakhadze, he found himself alone in front of Hunt. Instead of entrusting his right foot to shoot straight on goal, he decided to take the time to stop with the left, adjust the ball and then aim at the Ice Bears shot stopper. However, it all stayed in the intentions since the ball slipped from the sole of his foot to die over the bottom line leaving the Italian player hands in hair.
It looked like a cursed night, however there was no doubt for an average spectator to understand where the better quality lied. Rumori Calcio tried to play the ball in difficult conditions and in the end, their quality effort, was awarded.
In second half the lack of midfield among the Ice Bears was even more evident with Rumori Calcio confidently opting for a 3-3 without taking the hassle to add more defenders and having several time an unmarked man ready to collect from defence.
On the counterattacks, they had already three men ready to attack the spaces and give to the Ice Bears back line some troubles. In one of these situations, Palmeri had a good run in the box from the right side, however could not reach the fast ball sent in by Celik.
It was just a wake-up call for the Ice Bears, however Rumori Calcio’s winning goal did not come from build-up but from an authentic ballistic feat by Celik.
On 59’ minutes, just one minute before the penalties, he collected the ball from the defence and started to run against the recoiling Ice Bears defence. Meanwhile, both Balakhadze and Palmeri were helping the foray by keeping busy the back line with their runs. With enough space to look and aim at the goal, Celik guessed the right angle and with an exceptional shot from distance gifted Rumori Calcio with their first historical win and the chance to play the next round.
Rumori Calcio will face the losing side of LFC vs. Maccabi and follow their path in the 'consolation bracket' (check here for the full plan of the tournament)
A special greeting to Andi Kasmi (left).
The Albanian shot stopper will return to Italy where he is resident (photo by Gertrud Alatare Photography).
Ice Bears vs. Rumori Calcio 1-2 (AET)
Scorecard available here.