Tigers FC 0 def. by Gungahlin United 5 (Jeremy Habtemariam 20’, 57’, Antoni Timotheou 76’, Micheal John 84’, 88’)
By Tim Warren
Gungahlin United clinched the 2019 NPL1 championship with a 5-0 drubbing of Tigers FC in the Grand Final at Deakin Stadium on Saturday.
Valeri medalist Jeremy Habtemariam was the standout player on the pitch, scoring two goals to lead his side to their first championship since 2001.
Habtemariam opened the match scoring in the 20th minute when brother Samuel found his feet in the box and Jeremy slid the ball past Tigers keeper Jakob Cole at the near post.
However, the match defining moment came in the 37th minute when Cole saw red for taking out Gungahlin’s Micheal John outside the box during a goal scoring opportunity.
Cooma coach Gaby Wilk then turned to his bench, bringing on backup keeper Mitch Kaye for striker Lachlan Camm.
The Tigers impromptu restructure managed to get them to the break just one goal down, but the tidal wave of the Gungahlin offense was too strong to hold back in the second 45.
The Gunners doubled their advantage minutes into the second half when the Habtemariam brothers linked up once more and Jeremy firmly struck the ball into the back of the net after it had ricocheted into his path.
Gungahlin clinched the trophy in the 76th minute when Zac Barbatano teed up Antoni Timotheou, who rammed the ball home from the edge of the area.
Just eight minutes later, John gave Gungahlin a 4-0 lead when he blasted the ball into the top right corner following a clever turn in the box.
Timotheou was in the thick of the action again in the 88th minute, as he found John with an exquisite pass, who danced around Kaye and whipped the ball into the open net to round out the 5-0 score line.
The drama didn’t end there however, with the Tigers receiving a second red card to finish the game with nine men.
Michael Gurney received his marching orders from the pitch in the last minute of the game when he aimlessly ran through the back of Nicholas Rathjen to collect his second yellow card.
Gungahlin’s victory capped off an incredible year for Marcial Munoz and his side, who went from last on the ladder with minus-six points to 2019 league champions.