Saturday, 2 September 2006 1:21 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne have produced a barnstorming finish with Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes the catalyst, dispatching Green Gully 3-0 and securing a place in a semi final next week against either Oakleigh or Altona.
South scored all there goals in the space of ten minutes with Moraes breaking the deadlock with a superlative 82nd minute free kick, substitute George Tzirtis grabbing the decider on the counter attack in the 89th and Andreas Oliveira icing the game with a 91st minute penalty.
After John Anastasiadis’s men had produced a flat performance last Sunday against Ian Dobson’s rejuvenated Gully side, Anastasiadis re-introduced Scot MacNicol, Tansel Baser and Dino Djulbic back into the starting eleven with all players, especially MacNicol producing quality displays.
South lined up as follows. Veteran custodian Dean Anastasiadis began in goals with the central defensive pairing seeing Dino Djulbic partner the colossal Con Blatsis. Youngsters Rama Tavsancioglu and Sammy DeVito played in the right and left-back roles respectively.
In the centre of the park Antonio Naglieri played the holding role with Scot MacNicol given the attacking midfield reigns. Out wide, Fernando Moraes and Tansel Baser played on the right and left flanks with impressive South youngster Gianni DeNittis partnering the diminutive Andreas Oliveira in attack.
South created a good opening early on when after 6 minutes MacNicol squared the ball nicely from the right flank for Naglieri, who from the edge of the box blazed over when he really had enough time to at least hit the target.
A minute later and South nearly paid the ultimate price for defensive naivety, being caught far too up the pitch with Gully youngster Joel Nikolic springing the offside trap and finding himself one-on-one with Anastasiadis. Thankfully for South, Nikolic went for power and narrowly hit his shot over the crossbar.
South should’ve went ahead after 16 minutes when excellent work down the right flank by DeNittis saw the youngster brilliantly pick out Oliveira with a low square ball. Oliveira could’ve turned and shot but chose to lay it off to Moraes who again should’ve shot first time but opted to take a touch, increasing the defensive pressure on him with his eventual shot straight at Gully custodian Pasi Schwalger.
Twenty-four minutes in and MacNicol almost capitalized on defensive miscommunication in the Gully box, nipping in behind two defenders and getting to the bi-line in the 6-yard area, only to hesitate his cross and see the ball roll just over the goal-line.
A deep corner in the 32nd minute from Moraes bypassed all the Gully backline and found the incoming Tavsancioglu on the back-post who for a split second seemed surprised to be found in that position and hence hesitated his shot with his final lunging effort going over the crossbar.
South seemed to have once again fallen into the trap of playing the dominating football but failing to score. This time a brilliant 38th minute free kick from Moraes from the right hand side of the Gully box saw Schwalger superbly save at full stretch and out for a corner with the ball destined for the far left side of the Gully keeper.
The second half began with Gully seemingly happy to soak up pressure and let the game go on as long as possible without a goal being scored. Gully however created a dangerous situation in the 60th minute after a quality ball from the right saw Anastasiadis just manage to get a fist onto the ball, punching away from a Gully player’s feet and seeing the ball deflect off a South player and trickle narrowly past the upright for a corner.
Two minutes later and Oliveira managed to get to the bi-line and send in a quality looping cross that Schwalger couldn’t reach with unfortunately for the home side, no-one on the back post to slam into an empty net.
A minute later and a sharp snap-shot by Oliveira saw Schwalger up the task with the giant Gully keeper producing a good save to his left.
South’s tireless work seemed to be bearing little end product with the home faithful fearing Gully could sneak a goal and comfortably defend it. However, with 82 minutes played the brilliance of Brazilian Moraes came to the fore.
South won a free kick 20 or so yards out. Moraes stepped up and produced a magnificent strike over the wall and into the bottom right-hand corner that left Schwalger with no chance and subsequently sent the South faithful into hysterics.
It was a strike characteristic of the superb season Moraes has had, a season in which his individual abilities have been able to bring precious results to South and in this case, proved to be the catalyst for an unlikely drubbing.
Gully immediately raised their tempo and sent players forward. They began to dominate possession but always looked vulnerable at the back and it was this vulnerability that South exposed brilliantly on 89 minutes. Youngster DeNittis outmuscled his marker in the centre of the park after a defensive clearance and suddenly found himself with only a defender in front of him and Oliveira in acres of space down the right. DeNittis immediately switched to Oliveira who steadied and squared the ball to totally unmarked substitute George Tzirtis, who from 4 yards out, smashed in off the left upright to give South an unassailable 2-0 advantage.
The triumph was completed in the 91st minute after Oliveira was brought down in the Gully box when trying to take on a man. The diminutive striker stepped up and comfortably smashed the ball past Schwalger who dived the opposite way.
Delirium broke out amongst the players and the South faithful with the whole stadium chanting.
South managed to avenge last season’s semi final defeat against Gully as well as overturn a poor performance, against the same opponents, only five days ago.
John Anastasiadis’s men now wait for the winner of Oakleigh and Altona for a chance to play off for a spot in the 2006 Vodafone Cup Grand Final.