Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Asia: Bahrain leave it late to secure first Arab Games title (video)

Posted in Asian Football, International Football by peterbein on December 24, 2011

Bahrain have won the Gold Medal at the 2011 Pan Arab Games football tournament in Qatar.

Bahrain had qualified for the final by virtue of topping their group in the first stage, defeating Iraq and gaining a much needed point against Qatar, before eliminating Palestine in the semi-final ahead of yesterday’s final match. Jordan were Bahrain’s opponents in the final and they had qualified by finishing top of their group with five points from three games, defeating Palestine 4-1 in their opening group match before two goalless draws against Sudan and Libya followed. Jordan needed extra-time to get past Kuwait in the semi-finals and thus set up the game against Bahrain.

The game looked to be heading for extra-time but was decided as late as the 89th minute with Ismail Abdul Latif taking advantage of a defensive lapse in the game’s dying moments. The win sealed Bahrain’s first ever triumph in the Pan Arab Games football tournament.

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FIFA: Barça outclass Santos to win world title; Al Sadd come third

Posted in Asian Football, European Football, South America Football by peterbein on December 18, 2011

FIFA Club World CupIt may not have been the most difficult challenge that FC Barcelona would have to face in their quest to become FIFA Club World Cup winners. That, however, did not dampen the celebrations as the Spanish and European champions strolled their way past a poor Santos FC team courtesy of a 4-0 victory.

The game was over bar the shouting after the first 45 minutes of the game were played following strikes from Lionel Messi and Xavi, both of whom would go on to win the Golden and Silver balls as the best two players of the tournament after the game, and Cesc Fabregas who helped himself to their third goal on the stroke of half time.

Santos showed slightly more ambition in the second half after being overwhelmed in the first but chances from Neymar and Borges went begging. With eight minutes of the game remaining Barça sealed the deal once and for all after Dani Alves set up Messi for his second goal of the game to complete the rout. South American champions Santos FC were never in the game from the first kick and precocious teenager Neymar found out, just like Cristiano Ronaldo had done a week earlier, that Messi is still the main man on the big occasion.

FC Barcelona’s victory was their second triumph in this competition following their maiden win over Estudiantes de La Plata in 2009. Earlier in the day Asian Champions League winners Al Sadd had claimed third place in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup having got the better of this year’s J-League champions Kashiwa Reysol by virtue of a 5-3 win in a penalty shoot-out following a goalless ninety minutes.

FIFA: Santos ends Kashiwa dream; Monterrey wins 5th place

Posted in African Football, Asian Football, South America Football by peterbein on December 14, 2011

FIFA Club World Cup logoKashiwa Reysol’s FIFA Club World Cup dream ended today at the hands of South American champions Santos FC. Neymar was amongst the goals for the Brazilians as they claimed a 3-1 win against the J-League champions whilst earlier in the day North and Central American champions Monterrey CF won the 5th/6th place play-off, getting the better of African champions Espérance Tunis by the odd goal in five.

Santos, in their first game of the new look Club World Cup, may have won the game against their hosts but Kashiwa continued to do themselves proud in this competition. Following earlier defeats of Auckland City and Monterrey, it was always going to prove tough to jump the final hurdle into the final but Kashiwa certainly weren’t overawed. Nonetheless Santos did what they had to do in a game which could prove to be a useful workout ahead of a potential final against FC Barcelona.

Quality strikes from Neymar and Borges gave Santos a two goal lead at the break but Hiroki Sakai reduced the arrears ten minutes into the second half to provide Kashiwa with a ray of hope. The hosts, however, would suffer a further setback in the 63rd minute when Danilo restored Santos’ two goal lead which they would preserve for the remainder of the game. Santos will now face FC Barcelona or, in the event of a massive shock, Asian champions Al Sadd in Sunday’s final and hope to claim a first world title since their second Intercontinental Cup win in 1963.

The day’s other game saw Monterrey CF restore some pride in the 5th/6th play-off against Espérance Tunis in a game which saw plenty of goals. Espérance, who controversially lost their quarter-final against Al Sadd, went ahead after half an hour to a Yannick N’Djeng goal only to see Monterrey turn the match on its head just before half-time with Hiram Mier and Aldo de Nigris getting on the score sheet.

Monterrey carried on where they left off in the second half with Jesus Zavala’s close range header increasing their lead to two goals but the Tunisians weren’t finished and made it a tight finish when Khaled Mouelhi scored from the penalty spot to make it 3-2 with a quarter of an hour left on the clock. However the Mexicans held out to ensure that they would chalk up a maiden victory in this tournament and they will hope, along with their African counterparts, to win their respective continental titles once more in 2012 and have another shot at world glory in Japan next year.

Asia: India retain position as regional power in SAFF tournament (video)

Posted in Asian Football, International Football by peterbein on December 12, 2011

The South Asian Football Championship has been taking place in India since the beginning of December. The biannual event retained its recent trend of seeing the Indian national team win the championship this time defeating Afghanistan in yesterday’s final by four goals to nil.

In the early stages of the tournament Afghanistan had the early advantage over India with both teams meeting each other in Group A, along with Sri Lanka and Bhutan, and the Afghans finishing top of the group on goal difference. Following a 1-1 draw with each other in the opening group match Afghanistan and India then recorded victories over their other opponents with Afghanistan’s goal difference of plus nine edging out the Indians by just one goal. In Group B the Maldive Islands and Nepal finished in the top two spots, and thus claimed the remaining semi-final places, with both teams getting five points out of nine, two better than Pakistan and four better than Bangladesh who propped up the rest of the table.

India had an easier time of it in the semi-finals getting the better of the Maldives by three goals to one with Sunil Chhetri bagging a brace as he continued to set the tournament alight as its start player. Afghanistan, on the other hand, were ultimately grateful to Balal Arezou as his goal ten minutes into extra-time proved the difference as in their semi-final against Nepal. The final proved to be a tight affair for most of the game and remained goalless until twenty minutes from time when the Indians won a penalty kick which was scored by Chhetri who scored his seventh goal of the tournament. India then began to open the floodgates putting three more goals past their valiant opponents who, by this stage, were down to ten men and with Clifford Miranda, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Sushil Singh all etching their names on to the score sheet to provide the score line with an emphatic feel which was perhaps not befitting the performance of Afghanistan. Nevertheless the Indians celebrated a second consecutive title win, and sixth overall, in front of an ecstatic home crowd and cemented their place as the dominant force in the region.


FIFA: Kashiwa and Al Sadd through to semis; Barça win El Clásico

FIFA Club World Cup logoKashiwa Reysol and Al Sadd have booked their semi-final places in the FIFA Club World Cup following hard fought victories over Monterrey CF and Esperance Tunis respectively.

Kashiwa, representing the host nation Japan as the 2011 J-League champions, needed a penalty shoot-out to get past North and Central American champions Monterrey after the two teams had played out a 1-1 draw. Leandro Domingues gave Kashiwa the lead in the 53rd minute only to see Humberto Suazo restore parity just five minutes later and the rest of the game proved frustrating for both sides as neither team could kill off their opponents. In the shoot-out Ryohei Hayashi converted the crucial final kick as Kashiwa went through 4-3 and secured themselves a meeting with South American champions Santos FC in the final four.

Controversy reigned in the other semi-final between African champions Esperance Tunis and Asian Champions League holders Al Sadd. Khalfan Ibrahim and Abdullah Koni had given Al Sadd a two goal lead by the 50th minute but Oussama Darragi pulled one back on the hour mark. However the Tunisians had two goals controversially ruled out for offside, decisions which so enraged one supporter who ran on to the pitch. Al Sadd, who are based in Qatar, now look ahead to a semi-final clash with European champions FC Barcelona who will be in fine mood following a 3-1 win against Real Madrid in last night’s El Clásico.

Real Madrid took the lead after just 22 seconds as Karim Benzema took advantage of some uncharacteristic woeful defending by Barcelona only for the visitors to equalize on the half hour mark through Alexis Sanchez. Further goals in the second half from Xavi and Cesc Fabregas helped secure the three points for Barcelona who can go into the FIFA Club World Cup knowing that their arch rivals are not going to be so far ahead when they come back from Japan. Had Real Madrid won last night they would’ve been six points clear with a game in hand. Following last night’s result, however, Barcelona are now on the same points but Madrid, nonetheless, still have the advantage of an extra game to play.

FIFA: Double strike helps Kashiwa defeat Auckland

Posted in Asian Football, Oceania Football by peterbein on December 8, 2011

FIFA Club World Cup logoThe FIFA Club World Cup officially got under way today with two goals just before half-time giving Kashiwa Reysol a 2-0 win over Auckland City in the qualifying play-off to send the Japanese club through to the quarter-finals.

Kashiwa, who clinched the 2011 J-League title last weekend, had Junya Tanaka and Masato Kudo to thank as the pair struck in the 37th and 40th minutes respectively to send the host nation’s representatives into the next round. For Oceania champions Auckland City it was a disappointing result, especially given that they were in confident mood following a 100% record of winning results this season going into today’s game. Alas, the Japanese were too strong for the Kiwis who can now go back and concentrate on defending their domestic and continental titles.

The two quarter-final matches will be played on Saturday with Kashiwa playing CONCACAF North and Central American champions Monterrey whilst CAF African Champions League winners Esperance meet AFC Asian Champions League holders Al-Sadd.

Australia: Brisbane’s historic run finally comes to an end

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 4, 2011

Sydney end Brisbane unbeaten runHyundai A-League champions Brisbane Roar finally lost their unbeaten record this season when going down to a 2-0 reverse at the hands of Sydney FC today.

Two goals in the opening twenty minutes of the match put paid to Brisbane’s chances of victory today but the Roar still top the standings with a three point margin separating them from nearest challengers Central Coast Mariners. The action began almost immediately with barely half a minute of the game played before Dimitri Petratos gave hosts Sydney FC a dramatic early lead. Just eighteen minutes later an own goal from Brisbane goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos doubled Sydney’s advantage and the home side would go on to inflict Brisbane’s first defeat of the 2011-12 campaign.

Not only had Brisbane lost for the first time this season but today’s defeat heralded the end of an unbeaten run which had lasted for 36 games going back to last September. This unbeaten run proved historic in Australian sporting history as it surpassed the previous best of 35 matches produced by rugby league team Eastern Suburbs back in the 1930s.

FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Kashiwa Reysol

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 4, 2011

Kashiwa Reysol logoKashiwa Reysol secured the J-League title and a place in the FIFA Club World Cup as the host nation’s representatives following a climatic finish to the season in Japan this weekend. The title triumph was all the more remarkable given that the team had only won promotion from the Japanese second division last season. Kashiwa will face Oceania champions Auckland City in a qualifying play-off this Thursday and, if successful, will proceed to a quarter-final meeting with North and Central American winners Monterrey CF.

After 33 rounds of games Kashiwa led the standings by just one point from defending champions Nagoya Grampus Eight with Gamba Osaka just one point further back and hoping to take advantage of any slip-ups from the front runners. Sadly for Kashiwa’s challengers the league leaders had been in great form recently, only dropping four out of a possible thirty points in their previous ten matches ahead of their last day showdown away to Urawa Red Diamonds whose top flight status had only been secured the weekend before.

For Kashiwa, however, any pre-match nerves would’ve been settled by the half-time break with Jorge Wagner and Wataru Hashimoto giving the league leaders a 2-0 advantage after 45 minutes. Yosuke Kashiwagi pulled one back for Urawa after 53 minutes and a nervous finish to the season awaited for Kashiwa. Mercifully for the leaders Akimi Barada sealed the destination of the 2011 J-League title with a quarter of an hour left on the clock, his goal making the score 3-1 and the celebrations, which had been put on hold for the last few weeks, were finally able to begin. Wins on the road for Nagoya Grampus Eight (1-0 v Albirex Niigata) and Gamba Osaka (3-1 v Shimuzu S-Pulse) ultimately proved academic as Kashiwa secured their first ever J-League championship with a record of 23 wins, 3 draws and 8 defeats, a total of 72 points.

Kashiwa Reysol now only have four days to prepare for their FIFA Club World Cup debut against an in-form Auckland City team whose record this season has brought a perfect 100% record of seven wins from seven games in all competitions. Auckland City also have experience in this tournament having competed twice before in 2006 and 2009 so may handle the big occasion better. However this is a Kashiwa side that has defied the odds in becoming the first ever club to win the J-League straight after winning promotion and, with no track record to speak of in this tournament, are hoping that their relative anonymity might catch their New Zealand opponents off-guard. Plus, with the added motivation of representing host nation Japan, Kashiwa Reysol will be hoping that this season can become even more memorable.


South Korea: Jeonbuk claim second K-League title over Ulsan (video)

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 4, 2011

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors logoJeonbuk Hyundai Motors are South Korean champions for the second time in three years following their play-off triumph over Ulsan Hyundai.

Jeonbuk were huge favourites going into this year’s final having finished top of the regular season standings whilst their opponents Ulsan had knocked out FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Pohang Steelers en route to this year’s showpiece.

In the first leg of the final, which was played in Ulsan on Wednesday evening, Jeonbuk had Eninho to thank for giving the visitors a 2-1 win over their hosts and a useful lead going in to today’s crucial return fixture. With the first half of the second leg goalless Ulsan still had the capacity to cause one further shock in the play-offs and when Ki-Hyeon Seol scored ten minutes after the break an upset seemed on the cards. However any nerves which the home were suffering were extinguished just six minutes later when Eninho scored another vital goal, this time from the spot, to give the home side the aggregate lead once more. Luiz Henrique put the game beyond doubt with twenty minutes to play when he gave Jeonbuk a 2-1 second leg lead, and a 4-2 aggregate advantage, which Jeonbuk retained for the remainder of the game.

For Ulsan it was just one step too far but their team can be proud of their efforts this season which culminated in a League Cup win and winning a place in the 2012 AFC Champions League as a just reward for their play-off exploits. For Jeonbuk the triumph of a second K-League title in three years now brings greater challenges; retaining the national title is of great importance but the dream of winning a second AFC Champions League title will be uppermost in the minds of everyone at the club next season.


FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Al Sadd

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 3, 2011

Al Sadd logoAFC Champions League title holders Al-Sadd were the surprise winners of Asia’s premier club competition and will feature in their first FIFA Club World Cup. Al Sadd, who hail from the Qatari capital city of Doha, have a quarter-final meeting with African champions Espérance and, should they emerge victorious, will look forward to a semi-final encounter against FC Barcelona.

Their Asian Champions League campaign began with two play-off rounds to negotiate before reaching the group phase. Syrians Al-Ittihad (5-1) and Indian side Dempo FC (2-0) were put to the sword, allowing Al-Sadd to compete in a tough group containing Al-Nassr (Saudi Arabia), Esteghlal (Iran) and Pakhtakor (Uzbekistan). The Qataris finished top of the group with ten points from six games and thus proceeded to a Round of 16 tie against Al-Shabab (Saudi Arabia) which they scraped through, winning by a solitary goal to nil. Al-Sadd were then given a helping hand in the quarter-finals following Iranian side Sepahan’s oversight in fielding an ineligible player in the first leg which the AFC awarded to Al-Sadd 3-0 before Sepahan gained back some respect in the second leg with a 2-1 score line but the damage had already been done. A fiery semi-final with South Korean side Suwon Bluewings went Al-Sadd’s way with a 2-1 aggregate victory before they met another side from the K-League, the dominant league in Asian football in recent years, in the form of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Al-Sadd looked like they were going to win the final in normal time but a late stoppage time goal from Seung-Hyun Lee took the match into extra-time which saw no further scoring. The game was, therefore, decided on penalties with Nadir Belhadj scoring the vital fifth spot kick for Al-Sadd who won 4-2 and claimed a first success in this competition since 1989.

Since Al-Sadd’s glorious triumph they have played four matches in the domestic championship, known as the Qatari Stars League, and have suffered a mixed bag of results. Wins against Al Ahli and Lekhwiya were tempered by defeats against Qatar Sports Club and Al Rayyan. With the club lying in fifth place in the 12 team league, five points behind league leaders Lekhwiya, things are far from terrible for the Qataris but they really must put up a good performance against Espérance if they are to get to the last four of the FIFA Club World Cup.