The boys from Atletico Paranaense of Brazil showed their class, but the Irishmen from Shamrock Rovers could go home with their pride intact.
In a match befitting the semi-final of an international tournament, Atletico won 1-0. It was easily one of the best matches of the Mahindra & Mahindra Sait Nagjee international football tournament.
And it was a stunning goal that separated the two teams at the Corporation Stadium on Thursday night, scored by the promising Yago Silva, in the 62nd minute. He was also named Man-of-the-Match.
In Sunday’s final, the Brazilians, who are fielding their Under-21 side here, will meet the winner of the second semi-final between England’s Watford and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk of Ukraine. That match will be played on Friday. If it turns out to be at least half exciting as the first semi-final, it should be a cracker.
There was indeed plenty of entertainment for another good crowd on this night as the match got off to a lively start, with both teams looking to attack. While that was something you would have expected from the Brazilians, the way Shamrock, which has come here with its full squad, went for the kill would have surprised many, including its rival.
And it was the Irish who got the first chance of the match, but Dean Clarke’s menacing run down the left was tackled neatly inside the box by Wesley da Silva. Just five minutes later, the Brazilians had a good look at the Shamrock goal, as Andre Afredo, after duping a couple of defenders, shot a long-ranger, but it was well off target.
In the 12th minute, Shamrock’s Gary Shaw, after a speedy run on the right flank that surprised the Paranaense defence, hit the crossbar from close in.
In the 35th minute, Paranaense got a better opportunity off a move initiated on the right flank by Alfredo, but Joao Silva could only find the woodwork.
In first half injury time, there was a fine save by the Paranaense custodian Lucas Ferriera, who intervened just before Gary Shaw could receive an excellent cross from the left by Brandon Miele.
There were more exciting moments in the second half as the defenders and ‘keepers of both the sides were kept busy. But there was nothing much the Shamrock custodian Craig Hyland could do against the brilliance of Yago, whose thundering left-footer had class written all over it. After being fed from the right by Kaio Pantaleao, his speed and skills were just too good for the Irish.
In the injury time, Shamrock almost returned the compliment with what would have been an almost as brilliant a goal, but Miele, after deceiving Paranaense in spectacular style near the box, was denied by the crossbar, by a whisker. This wasn’t his – or Shamrock’s – night.
Result: Atletico Paranaense 1 (Yago Silva 62) bt Shamrock Rovers 0.