The Beijing Elite Core Club battled back from its debut loss in the Northern Marianas Invitational Football Tournament with an emphatic 4-1 triumph over Beijing 97 United Football Club last Sunday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.
The Beijing Elite Core was on target in the second half after struggling in the first and allowing Beijing 97 to draw first blood. The victory in the second match of the night came after Beijing Elite Core dropped a close game against the CNMI Boys U18 National Team during the tournament’s opener last Saturday, 3-4.
Chao Li kicked things off for Beijing Elite Core in the second half with his goal in the 47th minute knotting the count, 1-all. Earlier in the 14th minute, Lingyu Yang found the back of the net to put Beijing 97 on top. Beijing 97 kept the shaky lead, as Beijing Elite Core just could not cash in on several attempts in the first half.
The conversion finally came for Beijing Elite Core in the next phase of the game. One of its players went for a long feed and lobbed the ball toward the penalty area. The right center midfielder received it and had a cross header to the right center midfielder Li, who trudged forward and kicked the ball in to tie the match.
Beijing Elite Core continued to be aggressive, particularly He Li, who went on to deliver the last three goals for the winning squad. His first was recorded in the 61st minute when Beijing Elite Core had a free kick and the ball headed at the penalty area with the Beijing 97 goalie attempting to push the leather back, but He Li was there to kick it in after the keeper fumbled.
For his last two goals, Li had them in a span of two minutes. He scored in the 68th when one of his teammates attacked from deep right defense and made the pass to Li, who came from the left center and made the conversion. Then in the 70th minute, Li was at it again, and kicked the ball at almost the exact spot, as he sprinted to chase a long pass from one of his teammates after they stole possession. With Li surging, the Beijing 97 goalie gambled on moving forward to dive and get the ball, but he missed, allowing the former to run after the leather and go for the shot.
After Li’s hat-trick, Beijing Elite Core managed to keep its safe distance in the remainder of the game, as it stood its ground on defense to shut down Beijing 97 in the second half.
Meanwhile, the CNMI U18 blanked the M-League All-Stars, 3-0, to remain unbeaten and boosted its chances to top the three-day competition.
The CNMI U18 improved to a 2-0-0 win-draw-loss record and a victory over Beijing 97 (0-0-2) last night would have given the squad the championship trophy in the inaugural tournament. The M-League All-Star Team (1-0-1) was also scheduled to play last night against Beijing Elite Core (1-0-1).
Just like the Beijing Elite Core, the CNMI U18 managed to get its game going in the second half with John Michael Rojas, Sebastian Manabat, and Ronnel Ocanada scoring in the 46th, 49th, and 51st minute, respectively.