TOP SIX A BIGGER PROSPECT AFTER WIN
28 / 08 / 2016
Riga United have moved a step in the right direction after Saturday’s home win.
Date published: 28/08/2016 - 14:07
Riga United FC 3-2 Salaspils FS
A good performance was needed yesterday, if United were to have a hope of really challenging for a ‘top 6’ finish this season. They did just that with a fine second half performance that saw them beat Salaspils, at home, 3-2. All the United goals came in the second half from Slava Melņiks, Fabio Possagno and Ervīns Pērkons. With three games left, Riga find themselves in 7th place and just two points behind 4th.
Before the game, missing captain Alex Alunāns was cautiously optimistic about United’s chances, as long as the United players did their job. The players repaid his faith and optimism. The first half saw Riga leave the fans and Mo Awada scratching their heads, as they didn’t play badly but they could have played so much better. After a good talking to by Awada at half time, the players came out and gave a very different and combative performance. Awada said after the game: “The first half was the story of our season so far. Without playing that well we created three very good openings, which we failed to convert. Salaspils were able to score from their only chance of the half. We ‘sat off’ too much and gave them far too much time on the ball. In the second half we worked harder in closing them down. We spoke at half time about taking our chances and being more composed in our finishing.”
He continued: “The work rate and finishing in the 2nd half was outstanding. We scored three beautifully worked and taken goals. The players did a great job in the second half and fully deserved the win.”
The first half got off very sluggishly from both sides. It seemed neither side was looking to take the initiative and stood off from each other. A few chances from either side from long range but nothing challenging. United started to look dangerous with the set pieces, though no one could get on the end of them.
Midway in the first half, United fell asleep defensively when a dangerous shot came in from Salaspils, though Kelkit did very well to get on the end of it and deflect it on to the crossbar, none of the United players reacted and the Salaspils player just tapped the ball into the goal from the rebound.
The Black Cats, couldn’t really get going in the first half, despite trying, they were far too wasteful with the ball and didn’t pressure the opposition’s players enough. It was a somewhat frustrating performance.
In the second half United came out with with different attitude and played with more urgency and purpose. Again, United looked very good with set pieces throughout the half and it took them 15 minutes to find the equaliser. A corner came in, Melņiks picked the ball up with his back to the goal, turned and shot low across the face of the goal. With full momentum, it took United a further nine minutes to get ahead in the game. In the 69th minute, a United free kick came in and the ever-present, tenacious midfielder Fabio Possagno, took advantage of a defensive mix-up and got between two defenders and slotted the ball in to make it 2-1.
With Riga taking full control of the game, they started playing smarter and creating chances, all the time giving Salaspils nothing at the back. Frustration set in with Salaspils and after two very stupid yellow cards (the second challenge could have easily been a straight red), Salaspils found themselves down to ten players.
The drama in the game hadn’t finished yet. In the 82nd minute, a delightful pass by Melņiks was met by an equally sweet finish from Pērkons. Having received the pass - Pērkons struck from a similar position to the first goal with a half volley, again across the face of the goal. In the dying seconds of the game, Salaspils put the Black Cats under a bit of pressure and were fortunate to get their second goal, which was a very good finish.
This was a morale lifting victory to finish off a tough week. Though this is not the end of the busy spell, it puts them in good stead ahead of Monday’s clash with Monarhs-Flaminko. The character shown by the United players is something they hope to take into the next game. Mo Awada was especially pleased with the attitude of the players: “The centre-backs were great; no nonsense defending and won everything. Fabio Possagno worked his socks off in the middle and deserves a lot of praise. It was great to have Karim back, he should have maybe scored 1 or 2 but he gives so much more to the team. Ervīns [Pērkons] and Slava [Melņiks] took their goals very well so I'm pleased for them.”
Man of The Match: Fabio Possagno. Worked hard all game in midfield, he ran from box-to-box and got the goal.
Fans' Man of The Match: Slava Melņiks. Assisting in the third goal and scoring the second, it was a marked improvement for the attacking-minded player. He made some very good passes and runs also.
1. Murat Kelkit
2. Dainis Savickis
3. Eduards Sizs
4. Sofian Berrahal
5. Artūrs Meisters
6. Slava Melņiks (Emīls Pēterson)
7. Ede Schauer (Marco Spinola)
8. Karim Gouglou (Sedat Yildirim)
9. Fabio Possagno
10. Ervīns Pērkons
11. Jānis Pakalns (Igors Bratčenko)
Sedat Yildirim, Marco Spinola, Emīls Pētersons, Igor Bratčenko