Europe: L’OM through to final; Real defeat Atleti; Cups Review
There’s been plenty more action in European domestic cup competitions this week including the French League Cup semi-finals, Coppa Italia, English and Scottish FA Cup replays as well as the completion of the German Cup 3rd round following the postponement of two games in December due to bad weather. With further played in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey Stoppage Time reviews the best of the action.
Montpellier HSC and Olympique Marseille will contest the 17th Coupe de la Ligue final in April after chalking up respective victories over Paris Saint Germain and AJ Auxerre in the semi-finals. An Olivier Giroud goal in second half extra-time proved the difference as Montpellier reached the tournament showpiece. Marseille, the defending champions, reached consecutive finals having put AJ Auxerre to the sword with a 2-0 win with goals from Brandao and Gignac.
The Derby della Capitale took centre stage in the Coppa Italia as AS Roma and SS Lazio faced off in another typically feisty derby match. A goal from Simplicio in the 77th minute gave AS Roma the win after both teams had scored from the penalty spot early in the second half. Napoli sealed their place on Tuesday with a 2-1 home win against Bologna whilst Wednesday saw Sampdoria go through via a penalty shoot out at home to Udinese. The one game on Thursday night witnessed an easy win for AC Milan over AS Bari with the San Siro side going through 3-0 thanks to goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexander Merkel and Robinho.
Copa del Rey holders Sevilla FC became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals on Tuesday defeating Villarreal 3-0 in the second leg of their quarter-final tie, going through 6-3 on aggregate. Goals from Renato, Freddie Kanoute and Alexis gave the Andalucians a semi-final tie against Real Madrid who recorded a 1-0 victory on Thursday over local rivals Atletico Madrid. Second division Real Betis made a brave attempt to claw back a five goal deficit against record holders FC Barcelona but, in the end, the Catalans went through 6-3 on aggregate despite losing the second leg 3-1. Barcelona look forward to a meeting with Almeria who disposed of Deportivo 4-2 on aggregate.
There were replays in England’s FA Cup with Premier League teams getting the better of lower league opponents. The biggest game saw eleven times winners Arsenal FC defeat Leeds United 3-1 at the latter’s Elland Road stadium on Wednesday thanks to Samir Nasri, Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie. On Tuesday there were wins for Manchester City (4-2 v Leicester City), Wolverhampton Wanderers (5-0 v Doncaster Rovers) and Stoke City (2-0 v Cardiff City) giving the top-flight plenty of representation in the oncoming 5th round.
In the Scottish Cup there was a big shock on Tuesday as third tier Ayr United got the better of SPL side Hibernian FC by a Mark Roberts goal to nil piling the pressure on the Easter Road side who have not enjoyed a good season. Dundee United ultimately got the better of second tier Ross County winning 4-3 in a penalty shoot out in a repeat of the 2010 Scottish Cup final. There were also wins for Dunfermline Athletic (5-3 v Montrose), St Mirren (6-1 v Peterhead) and Partick Thistle (1-0 v Falkirk FC) whilst drawn matches involving Stenhousemuir/Stranraer (0-0) and Greenock Morton/Airdrie United (2-2) will have to be replayed at a later date.
Tuesday saw the completion of the Round of 16 in the KNVB Beker with wins for Eredivisie sides Groningen FC, RKC Waalwijk, NAC Breda and VV Noordwijk. They saw off determined opponents in the form of SC Genemuden, Achilles 29 Groesbeek, Telstar Velsen and Sparta Nijkerk respectively.
There were just two matches to play in the Round of 16 in Germany’s DFB Pokal with top flight sides securing wins over lower league opposition in games postponed from before Christmas due to bad weather. Srdjan Lakic was the hero for 1.FC Kaiserslautern scoring a hat-trick in his club’s 4-1 win over TuS Koblenz whilst a brace for Timmy Simons sealed progress for 2007 cup winners 1.FC Nurnberg in their 2-0 victory against 3. Liga side Kickers Offenbach.
Two matches were played in the group stage of the Turkiye Kupasi, one of which saw Galatasaray secure their passage to the quarter-final stages following a goalless draw away at Antalyaspor in their roup A encounter. In Group C capital club Ankaragucu still have a chance of progressing to the last eight following a Monday night 1-1 draw at home to Bucaspor. The visitors have now completed their group campaign and currently lie in second place but a win for Ankaragucu in their final match against Yeni Malatyaspor will see them take Bucaspor’s spot.
The Kypello Elladas saw the quarter-final first legs played out, amongst the four ties were two of the Greek games classic fixtures. Defending cup holders Panathinaikos fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of capital rivals AEK Athens whilst record cup winners Olympiakos Piraeus could only draw a north/south grudge match 1-1 against PAOK Thessaloniki. Olympiakos Volou have one foot in the semi-final draw having won 2-0 away at AO Kerkyra whilst on Thursday Atromitos got the better of Diagoras Rhodes FC by a similar scoreline.
In Portugal’s Taça da Liga the group stages are in full swing with two rounds of games completed in each of the four third-round groups which will determine who this year’s semi-finalists will be. Group A is led by Nacional who hold a three point advantage over FC Porto after beating Gil Vicente 4-1 on Wednesday. Two-time winners SL Benfica, Paços de Ferreira and Sporting top groups B, C and D respectively.
The Kypello Kyprou on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus saw the conclusion of three of the eight Round of 16 ties this week with the stand-out fixture between Apollon Limassol and APOEL Nicosia with the former winning 3-1 on aggregate following a 2-0 home success on Wednesday. There were also wins for Ethnikos Achnas and AEK Larnaca with respective wins over Ermis Aradippou and Doxa Katakopias.