Renown ended Colombo FC’s 23 match unbeaten streak in all competitions with a superlative 2-1 win in the 5th round of the Dialog Champions League Super 8, at the Sugathadasa Stadium.
Renown went behind early on from a thundering goal from Zarwan Johar but leveled terms when the former Colombo FC man Mohamed Rifnaz headed home from a free-kick. H.A.T.Lanka was sent off for a second bookable foul early in the second half as Rifnaz scored another soon after exerting pressure on the 10 man Colombo FC.
The match was billed as one of the title deciders with Colombo FC, Renown and Army in the hunt for the championship. Though both teams were coming off draws in the previous week Colombo FC were lucky to get off with a point while Renown were on a high with attractive and attacking football where they were denied a win because of a questionable disallowed goal.
It is always in the opening quarter that Colombo FC hits hardest on their opponents and it was the same as the Colombo forward line up created chances and went ahead through a blistering strike by Zarwan Johar.
The ball was laid off by Niran Kanishka to the edge of the box and the onrushing Johar had no second thoughts as his strike connected with might and drilled home low past the near post leaving Sathish Kumar stunned.
However Renown did not have to wait long as a free-kick by Fazal Mohamed found the tall Mohamed Rifnaz whose flicked header took a deflection on its way into the goal in the 21st minute. There on in it was all Renown who kept possession and hogged territory, though were unable to create clear cut chances.
Four minutes into the second half Lanka got himself booked for a rash challenge and minutes later received his second yellow for what can only be described as a brain freeze where he intentionally handled the ball outside the box with defenders around him.
It was an uphill task for Colombo there on in as they had to play half an hour with ten men. The task got even worse two minutes after the sending off when Fazal fed Rifnaz inside the box who shot on the turn past a diving Mohamed Imran to score what proved to be the winner.
Renown created chances at will with Rifnaz at the center of attraction. He should have scored from the six yard box instead squared it off for Franklin whose shot rattled the crossbar. It was Ojinkeya’s turn to hit the bar again from close range with the goalkeeper scrambling to cover.
Colombo FC defense were all over the place and were fortunate not to be down by more as they strengthened the defense to attack on set pieces. They did so towards the end but this time the woodwork came to the aid of Renown when Bodrie Dimitri’s free-kick from the edge of the box struck the post and a header by Mohamed Ramees from a corner struck the far upright from point blank range.
ThePapare.com Man of the Match: Mohamed Rifnaz
“We were in a high mental state from the way we played in the Super 8 stage. We had confidence from the way we passed and gelled together as a team. It is all because of our coach Amanullah who always prepares us mentally at practice to keep the ball, not to rush which helped us. We had pressure in the first few minutes but our slick passing helped to overcome that situation.”