Nagjee Cup: Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk enters final

Ukraine's Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk will meet Atletico Paranaense of Brazil in the clash for the title on Sunday night.

Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk's Denys Balaniuk trying to pass the ball past Watford FC's Dennon Lewis.   -  S. Ramesh Kurup

A fitting finale it will be on Sunday to the Sait Nagjee International football tournament. Vladyslav Kochergin ensured that his side sailed through to the final after scoring a goal and then assisting another, both in the extra time, against Watford at the Corporation Stadium on Friday night.

After the 3-0 victory against the Under-21 side of the English Premier League club, Ukraine's Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk will meet Atletico Paranaense of Brazil in the clash for the title. The Ukrainians and the Brazilians have easily been the two best teams in the competition and it will be a final worth looking forward to.

After playing 90 minutes goalless, 19-year-old Kochergin drew first blood in the 93rd minute, driving powerfully into the left corner, from just outside the D. Then, in the 110th minute, he gave a deft pass into the box from the right to Maksym Lunov, who calmly slotted the ball in. Just eight minutes later, an own goal by Sean Murray completed a forgettable night for Watford, which is coached by Australia’s World-Cupper Harry Kewell.

It was Watford which got the first chance, in the fifth minute. Dnipro’s goalkeeper, Ihor Vartsaba, had to bring off a spectacular save to deny Alex Jakubiak, who shot thunderously from inside the box. It was a promising move that also featured George Byers and Carl Stewart.

That was about the only opportunity Watford got in the opening half, as Dnipro slowly, but systematically tightened the screw. Watford was forced to be on the back foot for most of the time till the break.

Dnipro created several chances to go in front, but could not convert even one of them. The first of those opportunities came in the 17th move, authored by Yurii Vakulko and Denys Balaniuk. Vakulko, though was way off the target.

Five minutes later, Watford survived another scare, as Maksym Lunov shot from the edge of the box, but the ball went over the crossbar. Then, in the 37th minute, Balaniuk failed to finish off his own fine solo run down the right.

Watford had an even scarier moment in the injury time, as Vakulko beat the Watford custodian Luke Simpson, but Alfie Young kicked the ball out of danger, almost on the goal-line.

After the interval, Watford was able to get past Dnipro’s formidable defence on a few occasions. It did show more urgency than it did in the first half, but it was still the Ukrainians who got far more chances, such as the one in the 60th minute, when Kochergin could only come up with a feeble shot, following an excellent assist from Balaniuk.

Like the first, the last chance of the normal time too went to Watford, but Jakubiak shot wide from inside box after receiving a fine pass from Michael Folivi.

Result: Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 3 (Vladyslav Kochergin 93, Maksym Lunov 110, Sean Murray 118-own goal) bt Watford 0.

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