Last seasons deserved champions Afrika United arguably still boast the greatest selection of individually talented players in the league. This high level of skill was on show on Saturday afternoon but the defensive structure and directness of Beijing Celtic proved too much for them on this occasion as they lost out 2-1 in an end to end fixture.
Confidence was high among the Celtics after their previous victory over Forbidden City and they once again came flying out of the blocks applying pressure up the pitch. Winger Richie Lenehan found himself in space in the final third and as he took the ball past the final Afrika defender he was taken down prematurely inside the box. Penalty; no question, Dom Lytwyn; no doubt. 1-0.
Afrika managed to equalise as a freak ricochet from a clearance managed to loop in to the back of the net. Afrika are usually known for scoring goals of the highest class but when they find themselves in a dog fight against strong pure Irish beefy defenders such as Dusty Mahon they’ll take goals like this whenever they can.
Some Celtics players did have chances to put their team back in the lead in the first half however out of respect for the players anonymity these two ginger bearded attacking players with Irish accents, one of whom is particularly loud if you happen to sit beside him, won’t be named.
Afrika boosted their team from the bench in the second half and tried to apply more pressure further up the pitch pushing more men forward. However, the organisational structure and shape of the Celtics forced them into playing long balls and left themselves exposed to potential counter attacks which was exactly the cause of the winning goal.
Left Back Chris Liu, after already clearing two balls off the line previously in the game, kept his composure as he dispossessed the opposing winger and launched a fantastic 40-meter long ball in behind the drifting final defender. On the receiving end was Aaron Pu who kept his discipline staying within his on half to remain onside. After latching on to the floated ball he was left one on one and remaining calm he circled the stranded goalie and rolled the ball into the net. 2-1.
The remaining 10 minutes were tense but Celtic held on and the match ended 2-1. A great match to watch and a result that has once again completely opened up the race for the title.