Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Triobet Baltic League: Semi-Final Preview

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 25, 2010
Flora Tallinn

Flora Tallinn are the first Estonian club to reach the semi-finals of the Triobet Baltic League

The Triobet Baltic League resumes on Wednesday night with the semi-final first leg matches and, if results go to form, there is still the possibility of a repeat of the first ever final between FK Ventspils and Liepājas Metalurgs which was played in 2007. Many neutrals though will be hoping that either FK Sūduva from Lithuania or Flora Tallinn, a first-time semi-final representative for Estonia, can upset the apple cart and reach the final. With the semi-final second legs not due to be played until June 8-9 all teams involved will be hoping to take an advantage into the return fixtures next month.

Flora Tallinn are perhaps the biggest surprise out of the remaining quartet especially as they came from behind to win their quarter-final second leg against Lithuanian league leaders FK Ekranas. With the first leg finishing scoreless the writing seemed to be on the wall for Flora when Vīts Rimkus opened the scoring for FK Ekranas after 51 minutes but the five time A Lyga (Lithuanian league) champions hadn’t reckoned on Flora’s team spirit. Alo Dupikov equalized for the Estonians on 62 minutes and the game was sealed with Valeri Minkenen dispatching a 77th minute penalty to send the Flora players and fans wild. Flora, who are currently joint top of the Estonian Meistriliiga with arch-rivals Levadia, face tough opposition in the form of FK Ventspils who were losing finalists in the inaugural edition of this competition in 2007. After a couple of recent slip-ups in the Latvian Virslīga and knocked out of the Latvian Cup at the quarter-final stage, FK Ventspils are determined to get their hands on this trophy and coach Nunzio Zavettieri’s troops have home advantage in the first leg on Wednesday and will hope to make the most of it.

FK Ventspils - Liepajas Metalurgs

Will FK Ventspils and Liepājas Metalurgs face each other again in the Triobet Baltic League final?

Liepājas Metalurgs were the inaugural champions of this tournament back in 2007 but were surprisingly knocked out  by compatriots FK Rīga in the following year’s competition. German coach Rüdiger Abramczik will be quietly confident that his team can get a result in the first leg in the southern Lithuanian town of Marijampolė as his team are well rested having last played ten days ago. However FK Sūduva’s most recent domestic match saw them hit FK Klaipėda for six and they lie in third place in the A Lyga with just four points separating them from joint leaders Žalgiris Vilnius and FK Ekranas. In the quarter-final stage of the Baltic League both teams had tough hurdles in front of them but managed to get over them in the end. In an all-Latvian quarter-final Liepājas Metalurgs secured a pair of narrow 1-0 victories against a Skonto Riga side who, under new coach Alexsandrs Starkovs, wanted to go one better in this competition than in 2008 when they were losing finalists. However Oskars Kļava and Vitalijs Kavaliauskas scored in the first and second legs respectively to give Metalurgs a meeting with FK Sūduva who scraped past Estonian champions Levadia Tallinn with a solitary Povilas Lukšys strike being the difference between the two sides over two legs.

TRIOBET BALTIC LEAGUE SEMI-FINALS

1st Leg – May 26th, 2010

FK Ventspils (Latvia) v Flora Tallinn (Estonia)

Liepājas Metalurgs (Latvia) v FK Sūduva (Lithuania)

2nd Leg – June 8th, 2010

Flora Tallinn v FK Ventspils

2nd Leg – June 9th, 2010

FK Sūduva v Liepājas Metalurgs

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