Europe: Ventspils pay the penalty as Skonto win Baltic League
Skonto Riga finally won the Triobet Baltic League for the first time in the club’s history yesterday defeating compatriots and host club FK Ventspils in a penalty shoot out after the match had finished 1-1 in extra-time.
FK Ventspils were the defending champions of the tournament, having won the 2010 final in exciting circumstances against Lithuanians FK Ekranas, and were hoping to become the first club to successfully defend the title. However they were involved in a tight contest with Latvian champions Skonto Riga with both teams cancelling each other out during the regular 90 minutes.
Goals were exchanged during the extra-time period with the visiting side going ahead on the 100th minute mark. Valerijs Šabala, who came on as a late substitute in normal time, gave Skonto the advantage which they preserved until the half-time break in extra-time. However FK Ventspils responded early in the second half with Naoya Shibamura restoring parity in the 109th minute.
The remaining eleven minutes of the extra-time period saw no further goalscoring meaning that a penalty shoot out would decide the destination of the title for the second year in a row. Aleksandrs Fertovs converted the winning goal for Skonto to give Latvia’s record champions a 6-5 shoot out win and their first ever Triobet Baltic League title. This compliments their victory in the Baltic Champions’ Cup earlier in the year in which they won a three team tournament involving each champion club from the component leagues in the Baltic States, namely Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. For FK Ventspils it was disappointing to lose the Baltic League title in front of their home supporters but they are course to win the Latvian domestic double this year having already beaten Liepājas Metalurgs in the 2011 Latvian Cup final and they currently enjoy a six point lead over the same team (with a game in hand) at the top of Latvia’s top flight LMT Virslīga.