In their first meeting at Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium in 29 years, forward Diomar Díaz scored both goals for the visiting New York Cosmos 2-0 victory over Strikers in front of 7,653 spectators on Saturday.
“First of all it is a very good result for us as it is an important win against a team that created a lot of difficulties for us today,” said Cosmos coach, Giovanni Savarese. “I have to give the Strikers a lot of credit as they played very well especially in the second half as they created a lot of opportunities but I’m glad that our defense was very strong today.
“Overall it was a very good match and it was a strong challenge for us today.”
Just ten minutes into the match the Venezuelan Díaz opened the scoring after heading past Mexican goalkeeper Richard Sánchez in the Strikers goal.
Cosmos midfielder Ayoze provided a pinpoint cross for the first goal. His ball from the left found the head of the unmarked Díaz alone in the six-yard box. The second goal was scored on a rebound after Sánchez had done well to save an initial shot by the Bulgarian forward Stefan Dimitrov, but was out of position for the second attempt.
It went from bad to worse for the Strikers after going a goal down, when Haitian defender Stéphane Guillaume was injured in a challenge with Spanish midfielder Marcos Senna and had to be stretchered off the field in the 21st minute.
Brazilian defender Rafael Alves went close for the Strikers in the 25th minute of the match, however eight minutes later, Díaz doubled the lead for the Cosmos with his second tally.
Fort Lauderdale looked to have pulled a goal back in the 67th minute of the second half when a through ball slipped by the Colombian midfielder Carlos Salazar behind the Cosmos defense to beat the New York goalkeeper Kyle Reynish with a chipped effort however it was called back for offside by the referee.
The hosts threw everything at the Cosmos in the second half, forcing Cosmos' keeper Renish into a series of fine saves, but the breakthrough never came.
New York was left with 10 players just before the end of the match after the Uruguayan midfielder Sebástian Guenzatti was sent off by the referee after receiving his second yellow card.
“I’m happy with how we played the second half, however we weren’t aggressive enough and with a team like this you have to play 100 percent,” said Strikers assistant coach, Raoul Voss, who was filling in for Günter Kronsteiner as he was serving a one-game suspension. “In the first half we gave them too much space and if we would have scored a goal the game momentum would have changed but we couldn’t come back into it the second half as it was too late.”
The Cosmos victory keeps them for a second consecutive week in first place in the NASL Fall Season Standings with 15 points, while the Strikers five-game winless streak ends as they stay in fourth place with 11 points.
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|Tampa Bay Rowdies||14||5||5||4||3||20|
|Minnesota United FC||14||6||2||6||2||20|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||14||5||3||6||-2||18|
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|Tampa Bay Rowdies||12||5||3||4||5||18|
|Minnesota United FC||12||4||2||6||-5||14|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|