Europe: Skonto and Ventspils have one foot in Baltic final
Latvian clubs Skonto Riga and FK Ventspils hold the advantage following the Triobet Baltic League semi-final, 1st legs which have taken place over the last two nights.
In an all-Latvian clash Skonto Riga took on 2007 Baltic League champions Liepājas Metalurgs in the second such clash in less than a week. In the Latvian league match played last weekend Metalurgs defeated Skonto 2-0 at their home stadium and were hoping for a repeat in tonight’s Baltic League fixture. But Skonto, the only one of Latvia’s traditional big three not to have won this competition, have as good as secured themselves a place in the 2010-11 tournament final as they put five goals past their rivals and gained some revenge for Saturday’s setback. Skonto took a solitary one goal lead into the break with Igors Tarasovs breaking the deadlock four minutes before half-time. The floodgates opened in the second half with Renārs Rode doubling Skonto’s advantage in the 54th minute before Nathan Junior added a third midway through the second half. Two late goals from Ruslans Mingazovs and Artūrs Karašauskas sealed the deal for Skonto and they are almost certain to progress to the final barring any disasters in the second leg.
On Tuesday FK Ventspils travelled to Lithuania to play their semi-final, 1st leg against FK Šiauliai. The Lithuanians are going well in their domestic league just three points behind leaders FK Ekranas whilst defending Baltic League champions FK Ventspils are a similar distance behind Latvian league leaders Metalurgs. The game was tight in the first half with both teams limited on chances and going into the half-time period with a goalless score line. Ventspils broke the deadlock in the second half after Vladimirs Bespalovs in the 57th minute and the three-time Latvian champions took the game in their stride. A goal for Olegs Žatkins three minutes into stoppage time put the result beyond doubt and gives FK Ventspils the perfect opportunity to reach back-to-back finals.
The second legs will be played on May 24-25.