After losing out to Sala in the final match of last season, and losing not just the match, but the Division title there was some revenge to be had! Sala versus BEFC games are always intense and eventful. This match wasn't going to disappoint.
Sala had drafted in some new British players into their defence and retained their formidable attack that had caused a lot of damage in their Division 2 campaign. BEFC too was without a number of regular players but still looking good with some debuts for striker Toshinori Fujiwara and Akito Shimizu's first full outfield game for BEFC after being their keeper and then playing for Lions.
Sala started the match at a quicker pace, and while BEFC were showing more dominace and threat, they were losing control of the play to a Sala quicker to the ball and more determined to challenge for it. As BEFC and Sala fought for control of the match the defence held strong and the team was encouraged to sharpen up their play and just get that little bit quicker in moving the ball and making passes. The deadlock was broken with a much contested penalty decision in favour of BEFC as the ball was deemed to have struck a Sala defender's arm and preventing an advantage to Embassy. Bato stepped up and buried the ball confidently.
Next what followed was a very bizarre passage of play that after about 5 minutes of confusion finally resolved itself. Simply, the ball was kicked out of play due to one of the BEFC players receiving a heavy blow to his crown jewels. When play was restarted everyone expected the ball to be kicked back to the goal keeper so restart the play in an orderly fashion. Instead Sala kicked the ball forward to their strikers who got into the box and scored with a very decent strike, but one that was highly unsporting. The referee gave the goal and it caused a lot of arguing. BEFC restarted play and half of Sala's team wanted to allow BEFC to walk in a goal to restore the balance in the name of fair play. Marcelo Bielsa would be very proud. However not all of Sala understood what was taking place and while some players allowed BEFC to go through on goal, the other half flew in with tackles. Finally the referee had to call over both captains, and after both teams debated, Sala agreed that their goal shouldn't stand. Rather than a walk-in the referee simply erased everything had happened after the drop ball and play restarted at 0 - 1.
This world of confusion gave Sala more fight and towards the end of the half a strong counter-attack down the right side caught BEFC out to very well pick out low cross to the back post that Sala's top scorer Nakatani put away.
This was a bit of a blow to BEFC but just before half time BEFC managed to counter back with the speed of Nagasawa, Bato and debutant Fujiwara too much for the Sala defence. However just on half time Sala had introduced BEFC's nemesis Fuyuki Nakatani and his presence was immediately felt as he dictated play and also moved intelligently to lose his markers in midfield.
This was picked up on and in the second half Faustor did a fine job man marking Nakatani and it instantly affected Sala's play, allowing BEFC to get back more control. Sala again managed to draw level but as they pushed BEFC countered again to restore their lead. However Sala's repeated pressure gave them hope of a goal, and while BEFC looked dangerous as Sala over-committed there were shades of the attack no dropping fully back to help defend against the obvious factor that Sala were practically attacking with their entire side.
This was a dangerous policy, but it nearly worked for them, until with some resolute defending, BEFC's counter attack finally responded swiftly and directly with the break out speed of Fujiwara remarkable and his pass finding Bato to put the game well out of Sala's reach.
An intense match and well earned victory in which once again BEFC's defence put in a really strong performance against a very offensive side, and players executed important if unituitive strategies such as dropping ideas of positioning in defence to follow and man-mark out a player who has the capacity to win games by themselves --- and it worked.
When it game to MVP nominations there were a few names in contention, but ultimately it went down to the amazing and passionate defensive master-class from left back Frederico Giacomini. Since the Hibernian defeat one could tell that 'Fred' had not taken that last minte loss well and there was no way he was going to let that happen again. Sala continued to try and threaten down the BEFC's left where they had luck with their first goal, looking to overload the defence and slip through their quick strikers. Countless times Fred shut this tactic down, either cutting across to cover the runner and make a vital tackle, to also come flying out of position into the penalty area and simply cut out balls that had fallen to Sala strikers who would have had a clear shot on goal. From the sidelines, it could be said that Fred's interceptions prevented at least three clear scoring chances for Sala and that would have cost the game. Therefore the Adecco MVP for BEFC versus Sala is Frederico Giacomini.