Catalonia fought back from 4-2 down against Republic of China to come away with a place in the IFA World Cup Final. It was another inspired performance from Marcos Carrasco and Adrian Ortega who both combined on numerous occasions for their side who will now face USA in the final tomorrow at midday.
It was a close encounter in the early stages, similar to the group stage match between these sides which finished 5-3 to Catalonia. Republic of China were well organised and dangerous on the break while Catalonia offered a more patient and creative build up.
While Catalonia were more patient, they were extremely quick minded to take the lead. A corner by Marc Fernandez was put invitingly towards Ortega and the captain fired the ball low into the net past Che-Yang Chang. A fantastic finish from one of the players of the tournament so far.
As expected, it was an end-to-end affair. Republic of China in particular pushed forward with pace and determination at every opportunity. Unfortunately for them, they found Xavier Tarres in fine form. On two occasions, Yung-Chun Huang was through on goal but was denied by the out-coming Catalonian goalkeeper.
The pressure on the Catalonian goal, which was growing as the first half went on, eventually told and the Republic of China found an equaliser. Y.C. Huang finding the net after a nice touch away from his opponent and firing past Tarres with seven minutes remaining in the half.
Catalonia nearly retook the lead three minutes later through Carrasco. A free-kick was powered towards goal by the number seven and Chang, who has played outfield all tournement, parried the fierce shot on to the post and it was eventually cleared by Republic of China.
It looked as if we'd go into the break all square but Republic of China had other ideas. Catalonia's passing play from the back caught them out as Yu-Hui Wen intercepted a poor pass and was through on goal. Wen kept his composure, firing across the 'keeper and into the net.
The game opened up after the goal, perhaps both teams tiring before the end of the first 20 minutes. A corner again, this time a well worked team goal. Ortega and Carrasco with a nice one-two before Carrasco found Marc Trafach at the back post for an easy finish.
The half didn't end without further incident, despite the scoreline remaining the same. Anthony Huang striking the crossbar from a 10-metre penalty and Carrasco dancing through the Republic of China's defence before going down in the box. The referee waved the appeals away though, much to Catalonia's frustration.
HALF TIME: Catalonia 2-2 Republic of China
With four minutes played in the second half, Republic of China got themselves in-front. Chang, playing it out from his goal, found Yu-Chen Hung with Anthony Huang in space to his right. His pass found Huang and with patience and composure, he held on to the ball before eventually firing into the net past the numerous Catalonian bodies who were back on the line.
Shortly after, Republic of China doubled their lead and gave themselves a huge advantage. Ting-Yu Lin drove forward and as the space opened up, he fired it past Tarres and into the net.
Catalonia were needing to get a goal and their third of the match was something special. Carrasco, the provider again, flicking the ball over the Republic of China defence and perfectly on to Ortega. The captain still had work to do but he watched the ball onto his boot as he volleyed it past the helpless Chang and into the net.
With that goal, Catalonia were sparked back into life and got an equaliser only moments later. Ortega receiving the ball from Carrasco and taking advantage of a slip in defence, he drove forward before powering home the eighth goal of the match. Not his best goal of the game but hugely significant for their World Cup chances.
With their fourth goal, the match was turned on its head. The momentum was with the Catalan's and they used it to their advantage. Seconds later after going level, Carrasco latched on to a poor pass and with only a couple of strides forward, he passed the ball past Chang to give Catalonia the lead.
A massive couple of moments changed the whole complexion of the game shortly after. With 11 minutes to go, Wen broke forward for his side and played it wide to the open A. Huang. Wen continued forward and as the ball was played back to him, he looked destined to score at the back post. However, Wen couldn't get the ball under control and as he tried to poke it goalwards, he pushed the shot wide.
It was heartbreak for Republic of China only seconds later. At the other end, Catalonia increased their advantage. Carrasco intercepted another loose ball and he put it on a plate for Trafach to get his second of the game. A miss at one end followed by a huge goal at the other gave Catalonia a massive step towards the final.
As Republic of China pushed forward and looked to get back into the game, Carrasco added to his tally for the tournament. Another quick one-two with Ortega set him down the left side and with his right foot he powered the ball past Chang.
Despite the massive uphill task ahead of them, Republic of China continued to push forward. That determination eventually got them a goal and a possible lifeline in the game. A. Huang played it through to Y.C. Huang and he did well to find the net past Tarres.
Unfortunately for Republic of China, there wasn't enough time left and it was too little too late. The result means that Catalonia will face the USA, the only team to have defeated them in the tournament, at midday tomorrow.
FULL TIME: Catalonia 7-5 Republic of China
Catalonia Player of the Match: Adrian Ortega - Another captain's performance with goals and assists to his name.
Republic of China Player of the Match: Yung-Chun Huang - Two goals in this game and was their most dangerous player throughout.
Catalonia Magic Moment: Ortega's goal to make it 4-3. A fantastic finish by itself but helped to push Catalonia on to win the match.
Republic of China Magic Moment: Anthony Huang's finish to put his team 3-2 up. An extremely composed finish despite all the pressure and bodies in front of him.