In the season finale for the first 2016/17 SIFL Premier League season for 3United, they faced off against the Azzurri on an 8-a-side pitch near Fengxian – south of Shanghai. Having won their first meeting earlier in the season, 3U was hoping to get another good result against an Azzurri side that had been looking super strong to finish the season.
The first half was a back and forth battle where the attacks and defenses looked to be on equal levels. 3U’s youth players were going shoulder to shoulder and blow for blow against the Azzurri starters and showed their class. The football stalemate was broken by 3U when Radu Pughiuc pounced on a ball in the box and pounded into the back of the net. The Azzurri were quick to answer however and soon afterwards tied up the score with a shot off a scrambling corner ball. The first half ended with the sun directly overhead and a much needed break.
In the second half, 3U stepped up their game and were dominant force for the majority of the half. They relentlessly launched attacks on the Azzurri goal but were unfortunate not to convert many of those chances. But then Julian Wolff, coming up from the fullback position, crossed an arc of a shot into the top left corner of the goal beating the diving keeper to give 3U the lead once more. The Azzurri had a few chances on goal but Jonny Sumner, 3U keeper, and the defense were on their game and kept the ball out of the back of their net. Unfortunately, with less than 10 minutes to play, a cross led to a handball in the 3U box that gave the Azzurri a penalty. They barely put the ball past Sumner’s outstretched fingers but it was enough and put the score back at even. Despite 3U’s energy to get a winner, game time was just about up and when the whistle blew, the scoreboard remained at 2-2. Final score: 3United 2, Azzurri 2.
Man of the match: Jonny Sumner