Sunday, 6th of March, 2016
An electrifying opening twenty minutes saw the Barbarians scythe open the Russia Utd defence three times, putting the game out of their opponents' reach even before it had really begun. In what, on paper, looked to be a tough fixture (traditionally Barbarians vs Russia is a bruising affair) made even tougher by the absence of four key players, the Barbars put in a fluid, incisive first half performance -- by some distance the best of the season so far.
Welcoming returnees KP (who remembered there was a game this week), Basho, and Dias to the side, along with debutants Hossam and Khalid, the Barbarians found their rhythm immediately. Sham Mos, who was outstanding throughout alongside the also outstanding Nick 'Boyband' Beswick in central midfield, set the tone almost from the off, hitting a vicious 25-yard curler against the left upright within five minutes. From here the Barbars' confidence burgeoned and it wasn't long before KP sashayed through the Russian defence to slide one into the onion bag.
With the Barbars bristling, buzzing, even, with confidence, the second goal would only be a matter of time. And not much time, as it turned out: a lucky slice by Beswick into the path of Dias saw the Steppe's answer to Rihad Mahrez nip in front of the defender and smash the ball past the Russian goalkeeper via his near post. Alastair Dawson added the third around the twenty minute mark, curling home a low ball from just outside the area, much to his surprise and moreso to the surprise of everyone else. It was after the third goal that Basho was withdrawn as a precautionary measure, making room for newcomer Hossam, who put in a solid shift at right back.
In the run up to half time there were a couple of complacent lapses from the team where they should really have continued to put the Russians to the sword, but thanks to a collective ability to recover quickly as well as one world-class, Skupinesque tackle from Mark Blackburn, the Barbars managed to avoid conceding. Rediscovering their intensity and focus, the Barbarians scored a fourth in the lead up to half time when superb Khalid intercepted a loose ball just inside his own half, driving with terrific speed into the Russian box before squaring to KP, who nonchalantly slotted home his second of the game -- a finish seemingly as relaxed as his attitude to timekeeping.
After half time, and a sit-down team talk instigated by Sham who by this point was "tired", the Barbarians put in an assured second half performance capped by a header from the Turkmenistani trickster around the 65-minute mark. The fifth goal capped a decent performance by the Barbarians and sucked the last remaining fight out of the Russians, fortunately allowing Ethan to get a work out.
Barbarians 5-0 Russia United
- Man of the Match: Dias
- Sham-pagne Moment: Sham Mos first half dribbling masterclass
- Honourable Mention: The packed lunch that Pavel brought for Ethan -- top drawer.
The Numbers Game
- Goals: KP 2, Dias 1, Dawson 1, Sham 1
- Yellow Cards: Dawson, Khalid, Big Kev, Blackburn
- Debuts: 2
- Jumping Jacks: 9
- Fouls by Russian #58: 7
- Men savagely thrown to the ground: 1
- Potentially arm-breaking death locks: 1
- Members of N-Sync playing for the Barbarians: 1
- Pints of ketchup that ended up on Carlos's hands: 1.7
- Clean sheets: 1
- Amazing sandwiches: 1
- Taxi drivers murdered by Gideon this week: 1 (confirmed) 27 (rumoured)
- Minutes late (team total): 78