In the first semi-final match of the Canon Lion City Cup, Brazil’s Corinthians took on the boys from Arsenal. The match ended 2-0 with Corinthians coming away with another dominant victory.
In a gesture that was sure to endear them to the host nation, Corinthians’ players donned “I (heart) Singapore” T-shirts as they trotted out of the tunnel.
Corinthians goalkeeper Guilherme Ramos, who had kept two consecutive clean sheets in the tournament so far, was dropped to the bench. Victor Marganelli was given a baptism of fire in goal instead.
After ten minutes, Corinthians had the first clear chance of the match when Gustavo Franca managed to set up Matheus da Silva but the playmaker blasted his shot over the bar.
Four minutes later, Arsenal also carved out a good chance when Stephy Mavididi beat the offside trap but Marganelli came out to collect the ball quickly.
Almost immediately after that, Matheus netted his second Canon Lion City Cup goal. Picking up the ball from the halfway line, the No.10 dribbled forward before unleashing a powerful low shot which deflected off an Arsenal defender and gave goalkeeper Harry Girling no chance.
Mavididi tried to get his team back into the game but struck his volley straight at the keeper.
Corinthians’ second goal came in the 28 minute. A good interchange of passes outside the box found team captain Leo Jaba in a one-on-one situation against Girling and the tournament’s top scorer made no mistake.
After failing to find a way through Corinthians’ backline, frustration clearly began to creep into the Arsenal camp. Mavididi was shown the yellow card following a challenge from behind.
Mavididi once again was in the spotlight just before the end of the first half after outmuscling his marker on the left of the box but found the angle too tight for his shot.
The second half was a similar affair with Corinthians dominating proceedings. Arsenal tried their best to start a comeback with substitute Marcus Tabi causing problems on the right. At the other end, forward Miullen’s snapshot in the 60minute was saved well by Girling.
With Arsenal pressing forward and Corinthians determined to keep a clean sheet for the third time in this competition, the second half was a passionate affair, drawing a number of fouls and yellow cards. Referee Suhaizi Shukri of Malaysia had a busy night keeping the players’ temperament in check.
In the end Corinthians managed to see off their opponents by playing keeping the ball in the final third of the pitch.
At the post-match press conference, Man-of-the-Match Miullen Natha Carvalho lauded his team’s work ethic and unity.
“The team is very united and we do not play individually. We work together and when one person loses the ball, we know that a teammate will be there to win it back,” said the 15 year old forward.
Arsenal coach Patrick Ampadu shared a similar opinion when he assessed his team’s performance in the Canon Lion City Cup.
“I think we did okay. In the first half, we gave away possession too cheaply. Corinthians are an extremely hardworking and powerful side. Their players work for each other non-stop.”
“It has been a great experience (for Arsenal youth players) to play in front the crowd, to speak at the press conferences. This will help their growth and development.”