AUB took on rivals from the AUST on November 9 at AUB’s Green Field in their third Varsity Football League game of the season.
AUB were looking to bounce back from the previous week’s draw at Balamand and named a few changes to the starting eleven that made the trip to the North. Captain Wael Daou missed out on his third league game in succession due to injury, prompting Vice Captain and goalkeeper Mohammad Khatib to take the armband instead.
Another notable absentee from the team sheet was Wael’s center back partner Fouad Khoury, who had to sit out the game with illness, so Coach Rabih Idriss had to rely on Khaled Alameh and newcomer Samir Ghandour to fill the gaps in his side’s defense.
Coach Rabih also made the bold decision to drop star players Bassam Adada and Rami Musallam to the bench, and handed the in-form Rani Makarem – who only joined the team a few months ago – a place in the starting line-up after he impressed during pre-season.
The game kicked off and Rani instantly repaid his coach’s faith in him as he opened the scoring with just two minutes on the clock. The goal came after some great work on the right resulted in a cross from Chris Tamari being palmed away by the AUST keeper. The ball went straight into the path of Makarem who finished into an empty net.
AUB dominated a disorganized AUST’s side but created little goal-scoring chances with number eight, Rami Nasr coming the closest, with a powerful shot from a distance, forcing the keeper into a decent save. Chris Tamari’s goal was later correctly chalked off as the offside flag went up following a through pass from Jad Chaanine.
AUST did not last long, however, as after 15 minutes of play, Nasr let fly from a good 20 meters and his curling effort left the keeper with no chance, nestling into the bottom left corner. Shortly after that, the AUST keeper was called upon again to deny AUB a third goal, saving a ferocious Tamari shot from close range to keep his side in the game.
AUST had no reply until the 32nd minute, when a left-footed volley from range left the previously untroubled Mohammad Khatib stranded as he watched the ball come off the crossbar and go over for AUST’s first real chance for the game.
AUB responded through Makarem and Ghassan Ibrahim. The match saw Makarem bamboozle two AUST defenders before finishing just wide, and the latter pounce on yet another masterful pass by Chaanine, before seeing his effort come off the near post to conclude the first half.
AUST were given a lifeline shortly after the restart, when some sloppy AUB passing in midfield resulted in a quick counter attack by AUST. The two AUST strikers played a neat one-two and finished past Khatib with their second attempt after the commanding goalkeeper saved the initial shot.
Ghassan Ibrahim and Khaled Alameh both missed golden opportunities to restore their team’s two goal leads, and AUB were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of the goal when AUST scored the leveler 15 minutes from time.
Coach Rabih introduced both Bassam Adada and Rami Musallam in hopes of snatching the three points, with both players having an immediate impact on the game. A mesmerizing Chris Tamari tormented the opposition’s defense as AUB threw everything they had at a shaky AUST team. And it was Elie Dib who rose highest at a corner in stoppage time to head in a winner and give his side a well-deserved three points.
After the match official blew for full time and amid ecstatic AUB celebrations, AUST players confronted the referees and things soon got out of hand, forcing AUB security to step in and protect the match officials, escorting the AUST players off the pitch.