Photo By RC-Rosa Cavalcanti
The Fort Lauderdale Strikers played reigning Brazilian Serie A champion Corinthians to a scoreless tie in an international friendly at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m very happy with what we showed tactically, and that the players followed what we have practiced for only two weeks,” said head coach and general manager Caio Zanardi. “But we are working to be ready, and grow, step by step. We didn’t win anything, we just started the job.”
Fresh off participation as the only American representative in the Florida Cup, the Strikers, under the guidance of Zanardi, looked strong against the Brazilian powerhouse as preparation continues for the North American Soccer League opening match against Miami FC on April 2.
Both sides exchanged goals in the second half, with each having the tally called off by referee Marcos DeOliveira due to offside positions.
The Strikers hit the back of the net through Geison Moura in the 54th minute. The Brazilian got on the end of PC’s header to the far post when slipped through by Gabriel’s lofted pass, but the goal was disallowed.
Corinthians netted in similar fashion three minutes from time when Alan Mineiro flicked a header inside the box to Angel Romero who tapped the ball in at the far post from an offside position.
Strong wind blowing from West to East played a major factor in the game as it turned out to be a tale of two halves.
The Strikers, playing in their third preseason game, benefited with the wind to their back in the first half, while Corinthians had the advantage after the break.
Fort Lauderdale had a few opportunities in the first half with shots from Maicon Santos in the sixth minute, but PC was not able to convert the rebound against his former team. Aurelio Saco Vértiz had his chance three minutes later as the shot sailed slightly over the bar from a free kick.
PC gave it another try in the 41st minute with a long range shot from 25 yards out, forcing goalkeeper Matheus Vidotto into action.
The Brazilian champions came out more determined in the second half and with the wind behind them, and tested Strikers goalkeeper Bruno Cardoso for the first time in the 56th minute.
Bruno was busy again for the next couple of minutes with stops on Marlone in the 57th and 58th minutes, both times making saves for corner kicks. The netminder came up big again at the hour mark when he parried away a header by Romero.
Putting in a performance worthy of Man of the Match, Bruno, came up with his fifth save of the day on a shot from the edge of the box by substitute Danilo with 15 minutes left in the match.
Both teams played a physical match: Corinthians were called for 14 fouls, the Strikers for 11.
The Strikers play their fourth international opponent this month on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET against Ukrainian powerhouse FC Shakhtar Donetsk. Tickets to the match are on sale starting at $10 on Strikers.com.
Fort Lauderdale (4-2-3-1) – Bruno; Gabriel (c), Attakora, Agbossoumonde, Saco Vértiz (James 80’); Hlavaty (Gonzalez 83’), Paulo Cesar, Moura (Campos 77’), Adrianinho (Pineda 46’), PC (Blandon 90’+3); Santos (Angulo 74’)
Unused Substitutes: Reynares, Restrepo, Ababio, Skiadas, Zapata, Campos
Corinthians (4-4-2) – Matheus Vidotto (Douglas 46’); Edilson (c), Guilherme Arana, Moises (Alan Mineiro 84’), Pedro Henrique; Marlone, Gustavo Vieira (Rodriginho 46’), Vilson, Cristian (Bruno Henrique 47’); Lucca (Danilo 64’), Mendoza (Angelo Romero 46’)
Unused Substitutes: Caique, Yago, Uendel, Elias, Malcolm, Fagner, Felipe