Photo by Mike Gramajo/Soccer By Ives
By IVES GALARCEP
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.– With the legends of the club’s historic past in attendance, the newly-reborn New York Cosmos kicked off their first season of action in almost three decades with a memorable finish that had a touch of flavor of Cosmos teams of the past.
Much as the late Giorgio Chinaglia used to help bail out the original Cosmos with timely goals during the 70s, an Italian striker played the role of Cosmos hero yet again, with Alessandro Noselli scoring a goal in the second minute of second-half stoppage time to help give the Cosmos a 2-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at James M. Shuart Stadium on Saturday night.
On a night when Pele, Carlos Alberto and Shep Messing starred in pre-game ceremonies, A lively sellout crowd of 11,929 helped usher in the return of the Cosmos with an energetic atmosphere that helped the home team dominate the Strikers for much of the night. Only some outstanding goalkeeper from FC Dallas loanee Richard Sanchez kept Fort Lauderdale in the match, while a second-half equalizer from Walter Restrepo threatened to help the Strikers escape New York with a draw.
Noselli changed that with the flick of his foot. The 60th-minute substitute showed the quality that made him the leading scorer in Serie B when he slipped behind a Strikers defender and got a foot on a high ball to beat Sanchez in the match’s final seconds.
The Cosmos debuted standouts such as Spanish midfielders Marcos Senna and Ayozi, who both flashed there quality at times against a Strikers side that played a physical match featuring plenty of fouls and hard challenges.
New York opened the scoring just before halftime, when an Ayozi corner kick was headed down toward Sanchez, who was beaten to the ball by a streaking Marosevic, who finished the chance to make it 1-0.
The second half saw the Cosmos push for more chances, and they finished the match having generated eight shots on goal to two by the Strikers. One of those two Strikers shots tied the match, with Restrepo equalizing when he beat Cosmos goalkeeper Kyle Reynish to a high ball, heading it home to make the score 1-1 in the 73rd minute.
The Cosmos looked like they might be forced to settle for the draw before Noselli intervened. The newly-signed striker came off the bench in the 60th minute and paid immediate dividends in his NASL debut, slotting home from close range in the 92nd minute of the match.