Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Latvia: Three-way battle ensures exciting title race

Posted in European Football by peterbein on October 13, 2011
FK Ventspils

FK Ventspils, seen here with the 2008 title, are favourites to win in 2011

With five rounds of matches to go in Latvia’s Virsliga the title race has been whittled down to three teams. Defending champions Skonto Riga virtually have no chance of winning this year’s competition as they lie in fourth place, 14 points behind league leaders FK Ventspils but the capital side will still play a decisive part in the destination of the title as they must face-off against each of the contenders.

This weekend sees Skonto play host to surprise package Daugava Daugavpils who are in third place, four points behind Ventspils but have played a game more. The biggest game of the weekend, however, will take place on the Baltic coast with the top two of FK Ventspils and Liepājas Metalurgs playing at the former’s home Olimpiskais Stadium. Due to a lack of a credible local rivalry for Skonto, the “Derby of Kurzeme” is the biggest rivalry in Latvia. These teams have won five of the last six championships between them and they are currently separated by three points but Metalurgs have played one game more. Should FK Ventspils emerge triumphant in Saturday’s big match it could provide the Yellow and Blue with a massive psychological advantage. Should Metalurgs win the title race will be all the more exciting especially if Daugava should win their match away in Riga.

But it isn’t just this weekend which will see the top four meet each other. Next Wednesday sees Metalurgs play host to Skonto before the former travel to Latvia’s second city of Daugavpils to play FC Daugava on Sunday week. Should FC Daugava overcome the challenge of Metalurgs then they will go into the October 30th match at home to Ventspils in good heart and a win in front of their supporters would be a great way to end the season. Depending on results FC Daugava will then have to wait to see what their fate will be when Ventspils host Skonto Riga in the final round of matches on November 5th.

At the bottom of the table Olimps/RFS already know that they will participate in the end of season promotion/relegation play-offs. Riga’s lesser known football club only have six points to show from their 29 games and are ten points behind eighth place FK Jūrmala-VV with three matches to play and, thus, unable to catch up.

South America: LDU progress to Sudamericana last eight (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on October 13, 2011

2009 Copa Sudamericana champions LDU Quito became the first team to reach the quarter-finals of this year’s tournament on Wednesday. In last night’s Round of 16 second leg against defending champions Independiente the Ecuadorians, who were 2-0 up from the first match a fortnight earlier, lost out to a lone strike from Leonel Núñez. That, however, only reduced the arrears by half and the Argentinian side were unable to find a second goal which would’ve taken the match into a penalty shoot-out. LDU will now face off against either São Paulo (Brazil) or Club Libertad (Paraguay) fixture in the next round.

LDU QUITO 2-0 INDEPENDIENTE (1st LEG)

INDEPENDIENTE 1-0 LDU QUITO (2nd LEG)

USA: Sounders win historic third Open Cup triumph (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on October 5, 2011

Seattle Sounders made history by becoming only the third team in American soccer history to win the Lemar Hunt US Open Cup three times in a row. Following wins in 2009 and 2010, this year’s competition was secured with a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire in front of a healthy 35,615 crowd at the Sounders’ CenturyLink Field Stadium. Goals from Freddy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso secured the historic triumph for the Sounders who became the first club in the Major League Soccer (MLS) era to win the cup three years in a row and follow in the footsteps of Stix, Baer and Fuller Football Club (1933-35) and New York Greek American Club (1967-69) as the only teams to have accomplished this feat.

The cup victory also ensures that the Seattle Sounders will gain a berth in the qualifying rounds of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS 2-0 CHICAGO FIRE

Africa: Wydad and Espérance hold first leg advantage (+video)

Posted in African Football by peterbein on October 3, 2011

The African Champions League saw the first legs of the semi-final stage this weekend with narrow wins for Moroccans Wydad Casablanca and Tunisians Espérance.

Wydad Casablanca, African champions back in 1992, were fearful of wasting home advantage as their game against Nigerian champions Enyimba FC looked to be heading to a goalless stalemate. However their nerves were spared in the last minute of the game after Benin international Pascal Angan scored the goal which separates the two sides going into the return leg. Espérance won their opening leg away to Sudanese outfit Al-Hilal Omdurmam by a similar score line but, in contrast to Wydad, bagged their goal early on in the game thanks to Youssef Msakni in the 4th minute. The Tunisians, who claimed their only tournament win two years after Wydad in 1994, will have home advantage in the return fixture.

WYDAD CASABLANCA 1-0 ENYIMBA FC

Both of those teams have already faced each other on two occasions in this year’s tournament. Two drawn matches helped them both qualify for the last four of the competition having finished in the top two places of Group B in the competition league stage. Should both of the opening leg victors negotiate their way through tough second leg encounters, which will be played in just less than a fortnight’s time, then they will face off again in a two-legged final in November.

ESPERANCE 1-0 AL-HILAL OMDURMAM

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