Nagjee Cup: Watford snatch dramatic draw to enter semis

Volyn Lutsk was just a few minutes away from a place in the semi-finals, but Watford converted a late penalty to snatch a 1-1 draw.

FC Volyn goalkeeper Kychak Artem punches the ball away from Watford player AlfieYoung (6).   -  S RAMESH KURUP

There was high drama at the Mahindra & Mahindra Sait Nagjee international football tournament as a penalty in the dying minutes brought Watford back from the dead in its match against Volyn Lutsk.

It was indeed heartbreak for Volyn at the Corporation Stadium on Monday night. The Ukrainians were just a few minutes away from a place in the semi-finals, but the 1-1 draw meant they ended their campaign with three points. Volyn may not have lost a single match, but it would have to go home.

The draw took Watford’s tally to four points. The Under-21 side of the English Premier League club, coached by Australian World-Cupper Harry Kewell, finished second in Group A behind Brazil’s Atletico Paranaense, which scored seven points.

On this night, it was a must-win situation for Volyn. And the way it began the match, it was certain that it wasn’t willing to settle anything for less. The Ukrainians pressed forward relentlessly and forced as many as six corners in the first 18 minutes. It was following one of those corner kicks, taken by Oleg Gerasymiuk that they scored.

Off a deflection, captain Sergey Kravchenko, who was later named Man-of-the-Match, found the target from just outside the D; he stopped the ball and drove it hard to beat Watford’s formidable custodian, Luke Simpson.

Watford, after being outplayed for most of the opening half, began to regroup just before the interval. It came out even stronger in the second half but wasted several chances.

Volyn, on the other hand, seemed keener to defend. And it had to pay the penalty for that, literally and figuratively. Alex Jakubiak made no mistake from the spot, driving the ball in, gently and calmly.

In the six minutes of injury time, both the sides got chances to go ahead. The last of those came in the last second, but Volyn’s striker Redvan Memeshev put it above the goalkeeper.

Result

Volyn Lutsk 1 (Sergey Kravchenko 10) drew with Watford 1 (Alex Jakubiak 90).

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