Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pellegrino shades MOTM

PPCFC v AEU - Back row, LtoR: Pheng, Bisan, Sothy, Obadin, Borey, Yaty. Front: Pellegrino, Da, Suhana, Sokheng, Sokumpheak - click to enlarge - courtesy of Masayori Ishikawa
Result: Phnom Penh Crown 9 AEU 1 (Metfone C-League).
The ITC cleared before the game and Crown were able to name new signing Adriano Pellegrino in their line-up for the Metfone C-League match with Asia Euro under the lights at Olympic Stadium. Pellegrino played nearly 100 games in the A-League, represented Australia at U-20 level and was a target of Crown coach Sam Schweingruber, who felt a player of his experience would benefit his league leaders for the second round of MCL matches. And so it proved, in some style. It took ten minutes for the new face to even touch the ball, after Sos Suhana went close early on with a cross-shot that just missed the far post. Kouch Sokumpheak had a goal-bound shot blocked and at the other end, Odion Obadin recovered from a slip to deny Sary Mathnorotin a sight of goal. On 21 minutes, Pellegrino made the impression his coach had been hoping for. His beautifully delivered free-kick from 40-yards out landed on the forehead of Obadin and he buried his header powerfully inside the far post. Three minutes later and it got even better for the new face. Khim Borey broke down the left and delivered a low cross into the box, and as Pellegrino arrived, he took a touch and fired the ball past a stranded Mak Theara. Another three minutes and Crown were firmly in the driver's seat with a third goal, and it came from the right boot of the Australian, who was quickly making himself a fan's favourite. Picking up a loose ball 25 yards from goal, he launched an unstoppable drive over the head of Theara that sailed into the net. Crown were firmly in control with Pellegrino pulling all the strings. Another of his free-kicks found Obadin again but this time he headed wide. A slide-rule pass sent George Bisan clear but a raised flag ended that run before AEU showed some signs of activity. Mohamed Hamza's drive went a few feet wide and then he released George Kelechi, who went around Sou Yaty but Touch Sokheng got back in time to deny him a shot on goal. Sos Suhana got on the end of a deep Borey cross, only to head the ball over the bar from close in. With three minutes of the first-half remaining, Pellegrino was at it again. A free-kick wide right was clipped into the middle, where Hong Pheng, unmarked, headed home to make it four without reply. 

The second-half opened with an elbow into Pellegrino's face from Hamza that went unpunished. However just four minutes in and AEU were again on the back foot. A quick one-two between Leng Makara, on for the injured Sokumpheak at the break, and Bisan sent the Nigerian striker into the box and he lashed the ball inside the near post for a fifth. Kelechi broke down the middle but his finish lacked power, while Pellegrino tried his luck but his effort sailed well wide. On 64 minutes, Borey weaved past two players, slotted in Thourng Da on the left and he unleashed a rising left-foot drive into the roof of the net for a very rare goal for the full-back. Bisan missed a sitter when he steered Makara's pass wide of the target, but Mathnorotin made no mistake when he sent a quick-fire shot beyond Yaty's reach for an AEU consolation with twenty minutes to go. A mistake by Obadin nearly cost Crown but Ouk Sothy's acrobatic goal-line clearance from Hamza's chip was face-saving for his teammate. Kelechi also stung the fingertips of Yaty as AEU never gave up trying. Bisan's chipped ball to Pellegrino nearly came off but he was tackled as he shaped to shoot, while Bisan's powerful header from Borey's corner was nodded off the goal-line in a scramble. Thirty-three minutes into the second period and Bisan latched onto an Obadin long ball, out-muscled two defenders and slipped his shot neatly under Theara. Pheng moved forward to send a low drive past the far post and then Bisan stroked the ball home from Pellegrino's pass, but the linesman's flag mistakenly ruled it out for offside, video replays suggesting anything but. Bisan was not to be denied and on 83 minutes he controlled Da's forward pass on the half-way line, left two defenders in his wake and rolled his shot past Theara, celebrating his hat-trick goal with a double somersault.   

With just three minutes to go, Bisan stroked home his fourth from the penalty spot. Pellegrino slotted in Ly Morslim and as he recovered from a tackle, AEU keeper Theara came flying out of his goal, two-feet first and caught him on the side of the knee. In anyone's book, a straight red card, but it didn't even warrant a yellow according to referee Chy Samedy. Though he did give a penalty-kick which Bisan dispatched, to take his season's tally to ten. There was still time for Suhana to blast well over, for Pellegrino to break clear but to be denied by Theara's feet, legally this time, and then for the keeper to catch Chhom Pisa's drive in mid-air. A 9-1 drubbing as Crown returned to the top of the C-League table after NagaCorp went down to Army in the game before this one.
PPCFC v AEU: Yaty, Da, Pheng, Sokheng, Obadin, Sokumpheak (Makara 46), Sothy (Pisa 77), Suhana, Borey (Morslim 79), Pellegrino, Bisan. Subs not used: Ary, Soksela, Dara, Srin. Bookings: Sokumpheak, Pisa. MOTM: Pellegrino - a debut to remember in oh so many ways. Tough on 4-goal Bisan. Goals: Obadin (21), Pellegrino 2 (24, 27), Pheng (42), Bisan 4 (49, 78, 83, 87 pen), Da (64).

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