In the CPL’s first ever British Columbia derby, it was truly fitting of the province that the game at Pacific’s Starlight Stadium was played in the rain.
Buoyed on by a vocal traveling support, Vancouver made a fast start to the game, striker Shaan Hunda headed home a great ball from Gabriel Bitar just five minutes into the game – only for the offside flag to rule it out. Elliot Simmons shortly after had the game’s first shot on target, but his effort was comfortably saved by Pacific keeper Emil Gazdov. From this point on Pacific would dominate the big chances in this game; firstly a Bradley Vliet corner twenty-two minutes in was met by defender Amer Đidić, whose header thundered off the crossbar!
Then just four minutes later, Pacific’s new striker Easton Ongaro took advantage of a loose ball, which eventually led to him having a shot in front goal that he unfortunately, couldn’t get on target. Sean Young would have a deflected shot towards goal, but the first half would end goalless.
S. 2 Ep. 21: Canada Doing What Canada Does – FC13 Podcast
It wouldn’t take long for the action to resume in the second half. Just five minutes in, new Pacific captain Josh Heard was first to react to a Vancouver mistake at the back, and his effort in front of goal was denied by a smart save from Vancouver captain and ex Pacific goalkeeper – Callum Irving. Pacific couldn’t stay too comfortable though, five minutes later, Vancouver midfielder Min-Jae Kwak’s powerful free kick from around twenty yards out forced a strong save from Gazdov.
Despite being 0-0 late in the second half, this game always felt like it had a goal in it, and it would be worth the wait. With ten minutes to go, Vancouver failed to clear their lines, and a combination of Kunle Dada-Luke and Sean Young winning the ball back set up a Josh Heard cross into the box. The ball would then fall to Manny Aparicio twenty yards out, who on the half-volley, smashed the ball into the bottom left corner, leaving the home fans delirious! Aware of the moment in a derby, Pacific players immediately made their way to the Vancouver fans and shushed the away fans.
Pacific would come close to doubling their lead on the eighty-seventh minute, the ball would wind up the feet of Sean Young at a corner, and from a tight angle his curled shot was denied by the post, the second time Pacific would hit the woodwork! The 2021 CPL champions would see the game out, winning their third opening day fixture in a row.
Next up in the league for Pacific is another home game against Cavalry, whilst Vancouver travel to the GTA to face York United.
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