The first round of the RugbyPass FIFA Pros southern hemisphere charity tournament has kicked off in thrilling fashion with a double-header featuring Wes Goosen, Israel Dagg, Will Jordan and Josh Bekhuis.
Pitted against former All Blacks star turned Sky Sports presenter Dagg, Hurricanes speedster Goosen put on a clinic in the opening match of the competition to dispatch his first-up opponent 4-1.
Opting for the power of reigning French champions Paris-Saint Germain, Goosen dominated proceedings from the get-go and was richly rewarded with two goals in quick succession to Italian midfielder Marco Veratti and Argentina striker Mauro Icardi.
Dagg threatened to strike back on the stroke of half-time, but the three-time Super Rugby champion remained goalless at the break, with Goosen’s domination reflected in the stats which read 13 shots to zero.
As Dagg’s frustration grew, so too did Goosen’s influence over the encounter, as the South African-born flyer doubled his advantage through Icardi and Brazilian hero Neymar.
A late red card to PSG defender Thomas Meunier with 13 minutes to play aided Dagg’s quest for a consolation goal, although he left red-faced when Cristiano Ronaldo’s effort from the penalty spot soared well wide.
The 2011 World Cup winner could only laugh at his side’s misfortune, but he capitalised on a second penalty attempt in the 89th minute, with Ronaldo eventually getting on the scoresheet.
Goosen’s comprehensive victory, charitably described by as Dagg as a “hiding”, means the Hurricanes star has qualified for the quarter-finals of the tournament.
The former New Zealand U20 star from piled the pressure on the ex-Highlanders, Blues and Lyon second rower in the early stages of the contest, with the breakthrough goal coming in the 21st minute through Paulo Dybala.
It took just five minutes for Jordan to add to his lead when Ronaldo set midfielder Sami Khedira up for an easy finish following a near-miss by Luis Suarez at the other end of the park.
Bekhuis struck back rapidly through Suarez, though, who made no mistake this time round putting the ball in the back of the net to slash the half-time deficit to just one goal.
Chances opened up at both ends of the field as the half came to a close, but neither player could capitalise, allowing Jordan to take a 2-1 lead into the break.
It took half an hour of action in the second half before any goals were scored, with a well-timed run by Miralem Pjanic ending in what seemed to be the decisive goal in the 76th minute.
To rule out Barcelona entirely wouldn’t have done the five-time Champions League winners justice, though, and a piece of Lionel Messi magic from the restart put Bekhuis right back in the hunt as the match entered the final 10 minutes.
However, Jordan clinched his quarter-final berth in injury time through some beautiful passing play that saw Douglas Costa ram home the match’s final goal.
Both Goosen and Jordan will find out who their potential quarter-final opponents may be over the coming days when the remaining first round fixtures take place.
Tomorrow night’s clashes will see All Blacks prop Angus Ta’avao come up against Wallabies veteran Kurtley Beale, while Chiefs speedster Shaun Stevenson will face off against Hurricanes playmaker Jackson Garden-Bachop.
RugbyPass FIFA Pros Southern Hemisphere Opening Round Draw
Angus Ta’avao (Chiefs) vs Kurtley Beale (Waratahs)
Shaun Stevenson (Chiefs) vs Jackson Garden-Bachop (Hurricanes)
Aaron Smith (Highlanders) vs Tony Lamborn (Blues)
Alex Nankivell (Chiefs) vs Elliot Dixon (Ricoh Black Rams)
Bryn Hall (Crusaders) vs Pete Samu (Brumbies)
Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes) vs Josh Ioane (Highlanders)
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