Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Europe: Real have advantage; Ipswich shock Arsenal; Cups Review

Posted in European Football by peterbein on January 13, 2011
Tamas Priskin

Tamas Priskin scored Ipswich's winner against Arsenal on Wednesday

In yet another week of cup ties in some of Europe’s biggest domestic knockout competitions the biggest highlight came at the end of the week with local rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid battling it out in the Copa del Rey. Other prominent ties were played in England, Scotland, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Greece and there were a couple of shocks along the way. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the best of the action.

The first legs in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals were completed on Thursday with wins for Real Madrid and Almeria. In the Madrid derby Atleti took the lead through Diego Forlan after just seven minutes but los Blancos restored parity within five minutes with a Sergio Ramos header. Further goals in the second half from Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Özil give Real a 3-1 advantage to take into next week’s second leg. In the other tie Almeria have a slender 1-0 advantage to take to Galicia after an own goal from Deportivo’s Knut Olav Rindaröy proved decisive.

In the other two games played 24 hours earlier there were a remarkable eleven goals scored as record holders FC Barcelona put five past Real Betis whilst Villarreal and Sevilla shared six goals between them in an eventful 3-3 draw. Lionel Messi collected his FIFA Ballon D’or award before the game against second division Betis began and he ended the game with a hat-trick in another vintage performance. Pedro and Seydou Keita completed the scoring as FC Barcelona comfortably won 5-0 to virtually seal their place in the semi-finals. Defending title holders Sevilla FC were 3-1 down away to Villarreal CF before clawing their way back to a 3-3 draw. Alexis got the equalizing goal two minutes from full-time to set up what will be a fascinating return leg.

The big shock in England’s League Cup semi-final, 1st legs was the defeat of Arsenal by second tier Ipswich Town. Tamas Priskin scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the Trotters as they got themselves back on track in front of new coach Paul Jewell just three days after they were humiliated by Chelsea FC who scored eight goals past Ipswich in the FA Cup. The other semi-final tie sees West Ham United take a 2-1 advantage back to Birmingham City when the second legs take place from January 25-26.

North of the border Heart of Midlothian were the big casualties in the Scottish Cup 4th round as they were eliminated on home turf by fellow SPL side St Johnstone on Tuesday. Glasgow Rangers sealed their progression on Monday defeating Kilmarnock FC 3-0 in front of a sparsely populated Ibrox Park and set up a mouth watering tie against Old Firm rivals Celtic FC in the fifth round to be played on February 5-6.

Samuel Eto’o bagged a brace for Coppa Italia holders Internazionale FC as they went through to the quarter-finals courtesy of a 3-2 win against Genoa in the San Siro on Wednesday night. They join Parma FC (who defeated AFC Fiorentina before Christmas), Palermo (1-0 winners over Chievo on Wednesday) and Juventus (2-0 winners over Catania on Thursday) whilst the four remaining Round of 16 ties take place next week with the highlight being the Rome derby between AS Roma and SS Lazio on Wednesday.

Hulk FC Porto

Hulk sealed FC Porto's place in the Portuguese Cup semi-finals

In Portugal FC Porto have already secured qualification to the semi-final as they beat finally managed to defeat third tier Pinhalnovense on Wednesday thanks to two late goals from Hulk giving them a 2-0 win. In the Round of 16 record champions Benfica easily saw off Olhanense with a 5-0 win, Vitória Guimarães won 2-0 at home to União Torreense whilst Académica Coimbra and third-tier Merelinense also sealed a place in the last eight with wins over União da Madeira and SC Varzim respectively.

The Türkiye Kupasi is in the middle of its league stage and there were wins for cup holders Trabzonspor (3-1 over Şekerspor) and Beşiktaş (3-2 v Manisaspor) in Group B which helped those clubs into the top two places in the five team group. Galatasaray have all but sealed their place in the next round already having defeated Şekerspor Ankara 3-1 on Wednesday to give them a share of the lead with Gaziantepspor on seven points from three games, six ahead of third place Şekerspor Ankara who have only played two games. Fenerbahçe are out of the competition following a 2-1 defeat away at Yeni Malatyaspor. Two of the smaller clubs in Istanbul top Group D with Kasımpaşaspor sealing their second win in two games following a 1-0 win over Kirikhanspor whilst Istanbul BB also have six points having played a game more when defeating Karşıyakaspor Izmir 2-0 on Wednesday.

Finally in Greece there were two replayed Round of 16 matches on Wednesday with second tier Diagoros FC upsetting Super League club Ethnikos Asteras thanks to a solitary strike from Bartosz Tarachulski on the half-hour mark. In the all-Super League tie Kerkyra FC needed a penalty shoot-out to defeat Iraklis Thessaloniki following a goalless 120 minutes of football. Kerkyra FC were 100% from the spot whilst Iraklis’ Karim Soltani was the only player to miss for the visitors as Kerkyra won the shoot-out 5-3. The quarter-final, first legs will be played next week with two potentially explosive clashes including Olympiakos v PAOK Thessaloniki and defending holders Panathinaikos v AEK Athens. The other games see Kerkyra FC rewarded with a tiw against Olympiakos Volou whilst Diagoros FC have been paired with Atromitos.

Europe: Big names fall and nine goal routs; domestic cup round-up

Posted in European Football by peterbein on October 28, 2010
Belgian Cup

Who will win the 2010-11 Belgian Cup?

Many of European football’s domestic knockout competitions were in action over the last few days and there has been plenty of shocks, goals and action along the way. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the most significant action from across Europe.

BELGIUM: Defending title holders KAA Gent comfortably got through their Round of 32 tie against KVK Tienen. Among the goals was Tim Smolders scoring twice as Gent strolled to a 4-1 victory. RSC Anderlecht, in contrast, were made to work hard against third division side URS de Centre progressing 4-1 in a penalty shoot-out following a 2-2 draw after extra-time. Club Brugge, Standard Liege and current league leaders Racing Genk are some of the big clubs who progress following a Round of 32 largely devoid of shocks.

CROATIA: The biggest shock in Croatia came in Split where the defending cup holders Hajduk were defeated at home by NK Istra 1961 at the Round of 16 stage. With the game goalless after 90 minutes Emir Hadžić scored the only goal of the game and shocked the home side who now go out of the tournament. It was plain sailing for Hajduk’s arch-rivals Dinamo Zagreb who scored both of their goals in a 2-0 away win at NK Karlovac before the half-hour mark.

DENMARK: League leaders FC København were roundly defeated at home by AC Horsens in the biggest shock in the Round of 16. Four different players were on the score sheet for the visitors who silenced the home crowd, coming away with a 4-2 win at the Parken. On Thursday 2009-10 cup winners FC Nordsjælland had to make the tough trip to Odense and emerged as 3-2 winners whilst in the other all-Superliga clash Esbjerg fB defeated Silkeborg IF by two goals to nil with both strikes coming in the first half.

ENGLAND: The big boys had it their way again in the English League Cup Round of 16. Title holders Manchester United, looking for a third consecutive win in this competition, finally scrapped to a 3-2 win at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers while Arsenal FC made easier work of Newcastle United who succumbed to a 4-0 home defeat. Aston Villa needed thirty extra minutes to see off second tier Burnley FC with a 2-1 win and Birmingham City needed the lottery of a penalty shoot-out to defeat Everton’s conquerors Brentford F.C.

FRANCE: The Coupe de la Ligue witnessed two big games which resulted in knockouts for Olympique Lyonnais and Girondins de Bordeaux at the hands of Paris Saint Germain and Saint-Étienne respectively. AS Monaco had to fight all the way at home to Lorient eventually going through by virtue of penalties whilst they will meet defending champions Olympique Marseille team in the next round after l’OM toughed out a 1-0 victory away at EA Guingamp.

GERMANY: As ever in Germany the cup saw plenty of amazing goals and shocks. DFB-Pokal holders FC Bayern München scraped their way past Werder Bremen with the most successful side in German Cup history winning 2-1 over the second most successful thanks mainly to the efforts of Bastien Schweinsteiger. Eintracht Frankfurt thrashed Hamburger SV by 5-2  to qualify for the Round of 16 whilst the big shocks happened in Aachen and Offenbach after those cities’ respective teams Alemania and Kickers knocked out the top two from the top flight. 1.FSV Mainz 05 lost 2-1 away in Aachen and Borussia Dortmund, who had high hopes for this competition, went down to a penalty shoot-out loss in Offenbach following a goalless 120 minutes of football.

ITALY: Not too many of the big boys enter the Coppa Italia at the Round of 32 stage but those who did play this week had plenty to smile about. Current Serie A leaders SS Lazio had an easy 3-0 home win against Portogruaro Summaga while Udinese thrashed Padova Calcio by four goals to nil. It was a bit tougher for the likes of AC Fiorentina and Genoa FC as they needed extra-time to see off Empoli FC and US Grosseto respectively. The likes of AC Milan, Juventus FC and defending title holders Internazionale FC enter in the next round.

Polish Cup

Who will win the 2010-11 Polish Cup?

POLAND: Jagiellonia Białystok, 2009-10 cup winners, sealed their passage through the Puchar Polski Round of 16 stage after a narrow 1-0 away win at Korona Kielce with Maciej Makuszewski scoring the only goal of the game. League champions KKS Lech Poznań defeated KS Cracovia 4-1 whilst Cracovia’s eternal enemies Wisła Kraków scraped a 1-0 home win in the 87th minute against Widzew Łódź thanks to Maciej Żurawski. Capital side Legia Warsaw sealed a 2-1 win away at Śląsk Wrocław whose season goes from bad to worse. Lechia Gdańsk and Ruch Chorzów needed penalty kicks in order to qualify against ŁKS Łódź and OKS 1945 Olsztyn respectively.

ROMANIA: CFR Cluj-Napoca, winners of the Cupa Romaniei for the last three years, sealed their passage through to the Round of 16 with a 2-0 home win against Târgu Mureş to keep up their great recent record in this competition. Record title holders Steaua Bucharest are also through thanks to holding thier nerve in 3-1 a penalty shoot-out win over FC Sportul Studenţesc. Unirea Urziceni, however, went out as a Bruno Moraes goal was enough to seal Gloria Bistriţa’s place in the next round. FC Timişoara, Dinamo Bucharest and FC Brașov are amongst some of the other clubs that have made it through.

SCOTLAND: Same old story in Scotland’s CIS League Cup competition as Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers kept up their dominance by progressing past this week’s quarter-final matches. Celtic, though, very nearly blew it after taking a three goal lead after 13 minutes allowing their hosts St. Johnstone to reduce the deficit to 3-2 but the Bhoys ultimately went through. Rangers, fresh from their Old Firm league victory three days earlier, were far from their best against Kilmarnock but still went through to the last four with a 2-0 win. Aberdeen FC and Motherwell FC make up the quartet of teams remaining as they knocked out Falkirk FC and Dundee United FC respectively.

SPAIN: Real Madrid CF are used to shocks in the Copa del Rey in recent years and they very nearly faultered again but their Round of 32, 1st leg match against Real Murcia ended goalless. Record Copa holders FC Barcelona made a good start defeating Ceuta 2-0 whilst current holders Sevilla FC easily disposed of Real Unión 4-0, a scoreline bettered by last season’s losing finalists Atlético de Madrid who put five past a hapless Las Palmas side. Athletic Bilbao hold a narrow 1-0 advantage over Alcorcon, the team who knocked Real Madrid out of last season’s Copa.

SWEDEN: The Svenska Cupen saw two eventful semi-finals this week. On Wednesday second division Hammerby IF blew a 2-0 lead in normal time but were able to go through after a pulsating 4-3 penalty shoot-out win over Allsvenskan side Kalmar. Thursday night saw Helsingborgs IF beat Mjällby AIF by two goals to nil and book their place alongside Hammerby in the final to be played on November 13th.

Turkish Cup

Who will win the 2010-11 Turkish Cup?

TURKEY: Türkiye Kupasi Play-Offs having taken place this week with the winners of each of the sixteen ties joining defending champions Trabzonspor and the top three teams in last season’s league championship, namely Bursaspor,Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray in the group phase. Beşiktaş sealed their place on Thursday with a 3-0 victory over Mersin İdmanyurdu with Guti and Bobô (2) grabbing the goals during the extra-time period. Sivasspor’s season went from bad to worse following their 2-1 home defeat by Manisaspor.

UKRAINE: Kubok Ukrainy Round of 16 saw the Big Two of Ukrainian football cement their places in the next round of the comeptition. Shakhtar Donetsk saw off the challenge of lower league FC Poltava with a 2-0 scoreline whilst Dynamo Kyiv also booked their spot with a 2-1 defeat of fellow Premier League club PFC Sevastopol. FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, who knocked out last season’s winners Tavriya Simferopol in the previous round, gave recently appointed coach Juande Ramos something to smile about with a 3-0 away win at Kremin Kremenchuk whilst Karpaty Lviv got the better of surprise 2008-09 cup winners Vorskla Poltava with a 3-0 win in front of their home fans.

WALES: The biggest score in Europe came in the Welsh Premier League Cup semi-final 1st legs with The New Saints, looking for a third consecutive title, thrashing Bangor City by a massive nine goals to nil. Bangor City, who have a perfect 100% record after eleven matches in the Welsh Premier League, fielded a weakened side and TNS made them pay with Jamie Wood scoring a hat-trick and two players, Scott Ruscoe and Alex Darlington bagging a brace each. The other semi-final, 1st leg tie was a much tighter affair with Llanelli AFC gaining a 1-0 win away at Aberystwyth with Stuart Jones getting on the score sheet.

England: Carling defeats mean no end to Mersey hangover

Posted in UK Football by peterbein on September 23, 2010
Liverpool FC

Liverpool's defeat to Northampton Town was the biggest shock in the 3rd round

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Merseyside football it did. Much to the disappointment of loyal followers of Red and Blue everywhere the teams of Liverpool and Everton are not only struggling in the Premier League but have been knocked out of the Carling (League) Cup at the third round stage. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the situation.

In a third round which saw the likes of Chelsea FC, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City suffer early exits it was the two Merseyside clubs that suffered most. At least the aforementioned trio of clubs can claim to have been shown the door by fellow Premier League sides – by Newcastle United, Arsenal FC and West Bromwich Albion – whereas Liverpool and Everton were subject to penalty shoot-out losses at the hands of Northampton Town (4th tier) and Brentford (3rd tier) respectively.

These things do happen in football and even the biggest clubs have been known to be on the receiving end of an embarrassing defeat from time to time. What makes this so disastrous for the two giants of Merseyside football is that both clubs had pre-season plans to fight for the top four in the league and embark on a decent cup run. After five games of the English Premier League so far both teams share just one win between them (Liverpool’s slender 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion) and lie at the wrong end of the standings. Liverpool have had a tough start which has seen them drop two points late on against Arsenal on the opening day of the 2010-11 campaign before going down to subsequent losses to both Manchester clubs (a bitter pill to swallow if ever there was one). This sees the club lying in 16th place with just five points from a possible fifteen. For Everton, however, the current scenario is even worse having only secured two points from five games. One of those was an unlikely one against Manchester United when the Toffees were 3-1 down with minutes to play and somehow seized a 3-3 draw in stoppage time. This spell at the beginning of the new campaign means that the Blues have made their worse start to a season for 16 years. When thoughts turned to the possibilities of winning trophies before the season started I don’t think their fans wanted to settle for the “Copa del Everton”, a game in which the Blues beat their South American namesakes from Chile during the pre-season campaign.

Brentford FC

Brentford players celebrate their penalty shoot-out win over Everton FC

So having started the league campaign badly it was imperative that both teams at least progressed to the fourth round of the League Cup in order to provide a much needed boost to each other’s confidence. Sadly the demise continued on Tuesday as Everton went to Griffin Park, the home of Brentford FC, and were made to pay for some wasteful finishing. Initially the Blues had started well with Seamus Coleman putting Everton in front after just six minutes but the League One side restored parity four minutes before the break thanks to Gary Alexander. Brentford could even have avoided the lottery of a penalty shoot-out by converting from the spot in normal time but Charlie MacDonald’s second half penalty kick was saved which brought about the extra thirty minutes and the shoot-out. For Brentford fans it was a famous victory although allegations from Everton coach David Moyes that one of the home team’s supporters threw a bottle towards the Everton end during the post-match pitch invasion could mar what was a fantastic victory.

That did appear to be the biggest shock of the round until their neighbours from across Stanley Park decided that they were going to put in a performance against Northampton Town that was every bit as wet as the weather on a very rainy evening at Anfield. Like the Blues on Tuesday it all started off so well for the Reds when new signing Milan Jovanović put Liverpool ahead after just nine minutes but the players then became sluggish and appeared disengaged as the Northampton team gained confidence gradually as the match went on. They got their reward in the 56th minute when Billy McKay allowed the League Two side the chance to dream of a famous night and when extra-time came around it would’ve been easy to write them off imagining that they would get tired legs as time wore on but there wasn’t a bit of it. Northampton took the lead thanks to Michael Jacobs’ close-range effort in front of a stunned Kop only for David Ngog to equalize at the same end in the second half of extra-time. With Liverpool’s proud history in penalty shoot-outs it was they who were favourites to scrape through especially as the shoot-out took place in front of the Kop. Northampton even missed their first penalty to help out the hosts but Liverpool were still unable to take advantage as David Ngog shot one of the worst penalties ever taken at Anfield well wide and the initiative went back to the visitors. Both teams exchanged successful kicks before Nathan Eccleston hit the bar with Liverpool’s fourth penalty so it was then up to Abdul Osman to make a name for himself and he did so with great aplomb to stun Anfield into silence. The performance was so bad that coach Roy Hodgson apologized for it immediately after the game.

So what next? The Merseyside Derby is played on October 17th and each team plays two league matches before the big one. Liverpool at least have the comfort of playing two home matches but their opponents of Sunderland and Blackpool should not be taken lightly. Sunderland are led by former Manchester United defender Steve Bruce who has a good record as a coach against the Reds while Blackpool have an attacking style of play under their coach Ian Holloway who will use the underdog status as a motivational tool to his players before their short trip to Anfield. Everton, on the other hand, face difficult away trips to Fulham FC, where they’ve only won once since the Premier League began, and to Birmingham City who have lost only two games in the last twelve months at their St Andrews home. For teams who had trophy winning ambitions before the season neither can predict where their next three points will come from at the moment. With the strength in depth of each squad I would bet on both teams’ fortunes improving sooner rather than later but before then a much needed dose of realpolitik is in order before they can start dreaming of silverware and something that’s a bit stronger than Carling to drink.

League Cup gets serious in England, Scotland and France

Posted in European Football, UK Football by peterbein on September 20, 2010
Manchester United

Manchester United won their fourth League Cup last season

The League Cup sometimes gets a bad press but, if anything, it can usually provide more shocks and more thrilling football than its more glamourous counterpart. This is certainly the case in the English version which has been won by Manchester United in each of the last two seasons. The competition is also taken seriously in Scotland despite the winners not being rewarded with a European place but it still gives a chance for smaller teams to win something ahead of the Old Firm. The French Coupe de la Ligue is now in its 17th season and is a tournament that rivals the Coupe de France for intrigue and occasion. All three tournaments have reached the third round stage and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog previews the action.

ENGLAND

Manchester United are hoping to win this tournament for a third consecutive time, a feat which hasn’t been done since Liverpool completed a four in a row from 1981-84. They, along with all of the English teams involved in European competition, enter the competition at the third round stage and for the Red Devils it’s expected to be a procession through to the next round with a game away at Championship (2nd tier) side Scunthorpe United. The tie of the round, without any doubt, is the North London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC with Gunners coach Arsène Wenger expected to play a youthful team whilst Spurs boss Harry Redknapp has a bigger squad to choose from. Including the Spurs v Arsenal game there are six all-Premier League ties in this round including Newcastle United’s visit to Premier League champions Chelsea FC, Aston Villa meet Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City playing away at West Bromwich Albion whilst. In the “potential banana skin” stakes the biggest upset would c0me at Anfield if record seven time holders Liverpool FC were to be knocked out by League Two (4th tier) outfit Northampton Town. Here is the full third round draw below:

ENGLISH LEAGUE CUP 3RD ROUND DRAW

Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers

Birmingham City v Milton Keynes Dons

Brentford v Everton FC

Burnley v Bolton Wanderers

Chelsea FC v Newcastle United

Liverpool FC v Northampton Town

Millwall v Ipswich Town

Peterborough United v Swansea City

Portsmouth v Leicester City

Scunthorpe United v Manchester United

Stoke City v Fulham FC

Sunderland v West Ham United

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal FC

West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City

Wigan Athletic v Preston North End

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Notts County

Glasgow Rangers

Glasgow Rangers won the CIS Scottish League Cup last season

SCOTLAND

Glasgow Rangers extended their record in this competition to 26 title wins in 2009-10 with a last-gasp 84th minute winner from Kenny Miller to give the Gers a 1-0 win over St Mirren. The cup holders are expected to go through to the next stage having got a home tie against Dunfermline Athletic whilst for Old Firm rivals Glasgow Celtic it’s the potential reliving of a nightmare in their home tie against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. A Scottish Cup match involving the same two sides in the 1999-2000 season saw the now famous newspaper headline “Super Caley Go Ballistic Celtic Are Atrocious” after the Hoops lost 3-1 at home to Caley which ended up being the last game in John Barnes’ short reign at the club. Another top tie in this round is the repeat of last season’s Scottish Cup final between Ross County and Dundee United (click on the Away Days section to read Stoppage Time’s report from that match) in which the home side from the tiny village of Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands will hope to gain revenge on the Arabs for ruining their cup dreams at the end of last season. Here is the draw in full:

SCOTTISH LEAGUE CUP 3RD ROUND DRAW

Aberdeen FC v Raith Rovers

Brechin FC v Motherwell FC

Falkirk v Heart of Midlothian

Glasgow Celtic v Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Glasgow Rangers v Dunfermline Athletic

Kilmarnock v Hibernian FC

Ross County v Dundee United

St Johnstone v Queen of the South

FRANCE

Unlike in England and Scotland the French League Cup doesn’t include those teams that have qualified for European competition until the fourth round stage but that shouldn’t detract from what is still an interesting draw. Girondins de Bordeaux, last season’s losing finalists and joint record title holders having won it three times, enter the competition at this stage with a tricky tie away at AS Nancy who will hope to repeat their 2006 triumph in this tournament. Current league leaders Saint-Étienne have never won this competition and will hope to go one step closer to a maiden triumph against the team who lost to AS Nancy in the 2006 final, namely OGC Nice. AS Monaco, winners in 2003, have a home tie against two-time winners RC Lens whilst the fixture with the most potential for an upset involves Nîmes Olympique, 15th in Ligue 2, taking on Valenciennes who, although lie in 14th in Ligue 1, are just a mere six points behind league leaders Saint-Étienne. Here is the full draw:

COUPE DE LA LIGUE 3RD ROUND DRAW

AC Ajaccio v Le Havre

Arles-Avignon v Caen

Boulogne v Toulouse

En Avant de Guingamp v Stade Rennais

Lorient v Stade Brestois

AS Monaco v RC Lens

AS Nancy v Girondins de Bordeaux

Nîmes Olympique v Valenciennes

Saint-Étienne v OGC Nice

Sochaux-Montbéliard v SC Bastia

Olympique Marseille

Olympique Marseille beat Girondins Bordeaux to lift the 2010 Coupe de la Ligue