BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 2, 2019– The regular season was “down to the wire,” and so was the situation in the semifinals of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2019-2020 Opening Season, as no team had a commanding lead going into the decisive game 2 of the semifinal series. Regular season #1 seed Verdes FC had been held to a 1-1 draw with #4 seed Altitude FC last Saturday night in Mango Creek; and #2 seed Bandits Sport had managed a mere 2-1 victory over defending champion, #3 seed San Pedro Pirates FC on their home turf at Ambergris Stadium, also on Saturday night.
The second leg of the semifinal was a tough nail biter all the way on Saturday night at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium, with the early momentum in favor of San Pedro, then swinging back in favor of the Bandits, who were determined to hang on to their one goal lead. Referee Amir Castilla was not buying any theatrics in this one, as very physical play resulted in numerous yellow cards in second half. Defender Mailson Moura’s header gave San Pedro the 1-nil lead at the 83rd minute; but the Bandits held on till the long whistle, and secured the final berth by way of the “away goal rule,” since they were in an aggregate 2-2 tie.
On Sunday afternoon at the Norman Broaster Stadium, it was more entertaining for the many fans in attendance, as goals were certainly not scarce between home standing Verdes FC and Altitude FC from Mango Creek, Independence. It ended up 5-3 in favor of Verdes FC, but there were many anxious moments when it seemed Altitude would pull off a win or a 2-2 or 3-3 draw, which would give them the series victory by the “away goal rule.” Andres Orozco (4’) gave Altitude the early lead. Verdes’ Elroy Smith (10’ PK) equalized form the penalty spot after Krisean Lopez was cut down inside the Altitude eighteen. Krisean (19’) put Verdes in front, 2-1; but then the unthinkable occurred at the 31st minute; a sharp back pass by defender Evral Trapp to goalkeeper Woodrow West slipped under West’s foot and rolled into the net; 2-2 ball game, and favoring Altitude by the “away goal rule.” The game was in the balance until Trimayne Harris put Verdes back in front at the 47th minute; and then Krisean struck again with a rocket at the 77th minute to give Verdes a comfortable 4-2 lead. Trimayne then put it out of reach with his second goal at the 83rd minute to make it 5-2. Deep in injury time, Altitude’s Elroy Coe (90+5’) reduced the lead to 5-3; but the Verdes celebration was already under way for their trip to the final.
The stage is now set for the final between the regular season #1 and #2 seeds. As #2 seed, Bandits will be at home first; then Verdes will be at home the following week for the finale.
Saturday, December 7, PLB Finals Game 1
8:00 p.m. – Bandits Sports vs Verdes FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium