Cosmos Win Lunar New Year AET Cup

Cosmos defeat South China Football Team on penalties; Raúl makes debut.
Feb 20, 2015

HONG KONG (February 19, 2015) -- The New York Cosmos trailed on two different occasions against South China Football Team in the Lunar New Year AET Cup in Hong Kong, but rallied to tie the game twice in regulation before emerging victors in the penalty kick shootout before 19,522 fans at Hong Kong Stadium.  

A late goal from substitute midfielder   Andrés Flores in the 88th minute enabled the Cosmos to tie the game in regulation at 2-2 and push the competition to penalty kicks. During the penalty shootout the Cosmos won 4-2, with the game-winning penalty coming from midfielder Adam Moffat .

Flores entered in the 71st minute and immediately was a breath of fresh air in the crucial minutes. The 24-year old dribbled just inside the penalty area before delivering a strike to the far side that was beyond the reach of South China goalkeeper  Cristian Mora for the equalizer.

"South China are very disciplined and tough to break down," said Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer . "Sometimes you have to wait until the last couple of minutes for those goals to come, and Andres’ was huge."

Raúl started off the penalty kick session with a goal to the lower left, before Maurer saved Chan Wai Ho’s effort with a sprawling save to his right. Flores, defender   Hunter Freeman , then finally  Moffat tallied goals in the penalty kicks, with winger Walter Restrepo missing the fourth Cosmos penalty kick.

"Just as much as scoring on your first, making a save on theirs is a huge momentum changer," Maurer said. "[It] tells your guys that they have that much more breathing room."

Raúl, the all-time leading scorer at Real Madrid and former captain of the Spanish national team, was a centerpiece for the new Cosmos attack and has already been a strong influence on members of the team such as midfielder Sebastián Guenzatti .

"Every practice I try to learn as much as I can from him," Guenzatti said. "I try to be like a sponge because he has won everything. He’s a great guy and a great person."

Also making their way onto the pitch for the first time as members of the Cosmos were  Restrepo (San Antonio Scorpions in 2014), Lucky Mkosana (Tampa Bay Rowdies), and Moffat, who played for FC Dallas in 2014.

"We’ve only been training for a week and a half," said Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese . "To come to Hong Kong and play one of their top teams that’s in the middle of their season, and be able to get a win is a good start for us."

Winger Mahama Awal was impressive all match for South China, and was able to take advantage of a few Cosmos defensive breakdowns.

In the 71st minute, Awal sped down the far sideline, nearly lost possession, recollected himself, and beat Maurer on a close opportunity. The goal gave South China a  2-1 lead, their  second lead  in the game.

South China had originally taken the lead when forward Chan Siu Ki deposited a rebound in the 19th minute to get his squad on the board first. The all-time leading scorer for the Hong Kong national team  found himself in perfect position for the opening goal after Lo Kong Wai’s shot deflected off both goal posts.

Guenzatti was able to equalize for the Cosmos in the 23rd minute after finishing a cross sent in by right back Hunter Gorskie on a give-and-go with a scissor kick that slid past Mora.

With the decision over South China, the Cosmos take another step closer to the beginning of NASL regular season  play. There are still two more preseason games prior to the opener at Fort Lauderdale on April 4, yet the players recognize the importance of matches like these.

"It was a great experience," said Maurer. "It was a great match. We’ve only had a few days of training and flew across the world, but that being said it’s been a great experience."

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