Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Europe: Big kick-off in Croatia, Romania and Moldova; Leagues Round-Up

Posted in European Football by peterbein on July 25, 2010
Dinamo Zagreb fans

Fans of Dinamo Zagreb had plenty to celebrate on the opening day of the new Prva Liga season

The league championships of Croatia, Romania and Moldova kicked off this weekend whilst some countries league championships are a couple of weeks old now. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the best of the recent action across Europe.

Croatia’s Prva Liga saw the big two, Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split, record big victories this weekend and, thus, began the new season in their usual place at the top of the table. Champions Dinamo easily saw off the challenge of newly-promoted Hrvatski Dragovoljac 4-1 with all the goals coming in the first forty-five minutes. Cup holders Hajduk did better beating NK Istra 6-1 with brothers Anas and Ahmad Sharbini both getting on the scoresheet.

In Romania both defending champions CFR Cluj and their rivals Unirea Urziceni could only muster goalless draws away at Universitatea Craiova and Pandurii Târgu Jiu respectively. This left the door open for three clubs from the capital Bucharest to go above them with Rapid, Dinamo and Steaua among the early pacesetters beating FC Vaslui, FC Astra and Universitea Cluj respectively.

In Moldova champions FC Sheriff Tiraspol have set the ball rolling for another anticipated season of dominance with an easy 3-0 home win against local rivals FC Tiraspol with all the goals coming in the second half. Zimbru Chişinău, who were the dominant force in Moldovan football until FC Sheriff began their run of success, also won their opening match by three goals to nil against FC Sfintul Gheorghe.

The Ukrainian Premier League is three matches old now and the only team with a prefect 100% record is FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk preserving this record with a 5-1 rout of FC Illichivets Mariupol thanks in part to Yevhen Seleznyov who scored a hat-trick. The big two of Dynamo Kyiv and champions Shakhtar Donetsk are still unbeaten after victories this weekend against Metalist Kharkiv and FC Zorya Luhansk respectively kept them two points off the summit. Arsenal Kyiv lost their 100% record this weekend going down to a 1-0 home defeat against PFC Sevastopol.

In Switzerland defending champions FC Basel have set the tone after two games after their 2-1 win over FC Sion ensured that they were the only team with a 100% record.

In neighbouring Austria Sturm Graz, Wiener Neustadt and Austria Wien also have perfect starts to the season after two matches beating FC Kapfenberg, Rapid Wien and LASK Linz respectively on matchday two of the new Bundesliga season.

Euro Leagues Round-Up: Part 2

Posted in European Football by peterbein on March 2, 2010

Jadson scored the winner for Shakhtar Donetsk in their 1-0 win over Vorskla Poltava

“Stoppage Time” concludes its look at the major European leagues, which take a few days break and resume after the international matches in midweek:

UKRAINE (1st – Dynamo Kyiv 17 games/45 points; 2nd – Shakhtar Donetsk 18/43; 3rd – Metalist Kharkiv 17/35)

The Ukrainian Premier League returned to action this weekend with the top two teams recording expected victories to stay well ahead of the chasing pack. Champions Dynamo Kyiv had Croatian midfielder Ognjen Vukojević to thank for their narrow 1-0 home win over FC Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih who are rooted to the bottom of the table. Shakhtar Donetsk, fresh from the disappointment of their UEFA Europa League exit to Fulham FC on Thursday, returned to winning ways. They defeated Vorskla Poltava, the team who defeated Shakhtar in last season’s Ukrainian Cup final, by a goal to nil thanks to Brazilian striker Jadson (pictured). Third place Metalist Kharkiv lost for only the fourth time this season going down 2-1 to Karpaty Lviv.

GREECE (1st – Panathinaikos 24/55; 2nd – Olympiakos 24/53; 3rd – PAOK 24/53)

Panathinaikos have been feeling the pressure recently as they have let an eight point lead slip to just a mere two having recorded only five out of the last fifteen points available. One of the two defeats suffered in that time by “Pana” was against PAOK Thessaloniki who, on Saturday, went on top of the Super League for at least 24 hours with a 3-0 win away at Škoda Xanthi thanks to strikes from Vieirinha (2) and Vladimir Ivić. League leaders Panathinaikos, fresh from knocking out AS Roma in the UEFA Europa League, returned to the top of the table with two Djibril Cissé goals giving the Prasinoi (The Greens) a 2-0 win over Panionios. Champions Olympiakos, despite an up-and-down season, still retain a realistic hope of the title with six matches to go beating Atromitos 2-0 thanks to Matt Derbyshire and Konstantinos Mitroglu.

ROMANIA (1st – CFR Cluj-Napoca 19/38; 2nd – FC Timişoara 19/35; 3rd – FC Unirea Urziceni 19/35)

There are very few championships anywhere in the world, at the moment, that are as intriging as the Romanian League. Eight points separates CFR Cluj in first from FC Brasov in eighth place so any team that can put a run together from now until the end of the season has a very good chance of winning the title. Leaders CFR Cluj drew 1-1 away at record champions Steaua Bucharest but they still retain a three point at the top of the table thanks to Unirea’s inability to win away at seventh place Rapid Bucharest, recording a similar 1-1 scoreline. FC Timişoara went up to second on goal difference as they joined Unirea and Steaua on 35 points thanks to a 2-1 defeat of Politechnica Iaşi. Other games at the top saw FC Vaslui victorious in a 2-1 home win against CS Pandurii whilst Dinamo Bucharest jumped up to sixth place with a 3-1 away win at FC Internaţional.

TURKEY (1st – Galatasaray 23/50; 2nd – Bursaspor 22/46; 3rd – Fenerbahçe 23/45)

If recent history is anything to go by then the Turkish Süper Lig should go all the way and, with eight points separating the top five teams, there’s a chance that it could go to the wire. League leaders Galatasaray still look favourites though after recording a easy 4-1 over Kasimpasa with Abdul Keita scoring a brace for the home side. Surprise package Bursaspor are only four points behind “Gala” and have a game in hand. They kept in touch with their more illustrious title rivals beating last season’s runners-up Sivasspor 3-0. Third place Fenerbahçe slipped up against local minnows Istanbul B.B. with Iskender Alin scoring the winner seven minutes from time to give the home side a 2-1 win. Last season’s Double winners Beşiktaş are now trailing fourth place Kayserispor on goal difference after defeating the latter 2-1 with strikes from Ekrem Dağ and Chilean midfielder Rodrigo Tello.

BELGIUM (1st – RSC Anderlecht 25/60; 2nd – Club Brugge 26/51; 3rd – KAA Gent 26/43)

With only a few rounds of games to go in the regular season of the Belgian Jupiler League there is no doubting that RSC Anderlecht will finish on top as they have a nine point lead over nearest challengers Club Brugge with a precious game in hand. Anderlecht won away at Roeselare 2-1 but the other teams around them in the table could only draw with Club Brugge drawing 1-1 against St. Truiden. Similar scorelines were recorded for third place KAA Gent away at Germinal and fourth place Kortrijk away at Mechelen.

POLAND (1st – Wisła Kraków 18/40; 2nd – Legia Warsaw 18/38; 3rd – Lech Poznań 18/35)

Poland’s Ekstraklasa has been anything but easy for champions Wisła Kraków to defend this season and Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to GKS Bełchatów is further proof of this, the home side’s goal being scored as early as the third minute by Dawid Nowak. This allowed nearest challengers Legia Warsaw to creep up behind the leaders and this they did with a 2-1 win away at Cracovia. Lech Poznań and Ruch Chorzów both secured 3-0 away victories at Polonia Warsaw and Arka Gdynia respectively whilst KS Lechia Gdańsk remain in sixth after a goalless stalemate against MKS Odra Wodzisław.

CZECH REPUBLIC (1st – FK Jablonec 17/34; 2nd – FK Teplice 16/33; 3rd – Sparta Prague 17/33)

The Gambrinus Liga is another one of those championships with a competitive edge to it with two points separating the top four. FK Teplice’s 0-0 draw away at SK Dynamo České Budějovice allowed FK Jablonec to climb to the top of the table after their 3-0 win at home to Bohemians 1905. Record champions Sparta Prague could only muster a 1-1 home draw against Pribram whilst local rivals and defending champions beat Bohemians FC 1-0. FC Baník Ostrava blew their chance on Monday night to join Jablonec at the top as they could only manage a 0-0 draw at FC Viktoria Plzeň.

AUSTRIA (1st – Red Bull Salzburg 22/48; 2nd – FK Austria Wien 22/43; 3rd – SK Rapid Wien 22/42)

Rabiu Afolabi, Red Bull Salzburg’s towering centre-half, scored the only goal for the league leaders in their highly anticipated Austrian Bundesliga clash away at third place SK Rapid. This allowed Rapid’s local neighbours FK Austria to get some daylight between themselves and their Viennese rivals thanks to a 1-1 draw away at SV Mattersburg. Sadly for Austria though the gap between themselves and Salzburg has been increased to five points due to their inability to win on the road.

CROATIA (1st – Dinamo Zagreb 18/42; 2nd – HNK Cibalia 18/36; 3rd – HNK Šibenik 18/34)

The Croatian league resumed this weekend after a long winter break. Dinamo, who have won five out of the last six titles, continued where they left off before the break dismantling  bottom side Croatia Sesvete 6-0 with top scorer Mario Mandžukić scoring a hat-trick. HNK Cibalia have second place all to themselves after their 2-0 win at home to Inter Zaprešić whilst HNK Šibenik could only muster a 1-1 at home to thirteenth place NK Zadar. Dinamo Zagreb’s usual title rivals Hajduk Split are still trying to recover from a bad start to the season and have climbed up to fifth place in the table with a 5-0 win over Slaven Koprivnica. NK Osijek, who were in fifth place before this weekend’s round of matches, are now down to sixth after losing to fourth place NK Karlovac by a goal to nil.

SWITZERLAND (1st – Young Boys 22/50; 2nd – FC Basel 22/46; 3rd – FC Luzern 22/38)

Last, but by no means least, we take a look at the Swiss League were Young Boys from the capital city Berne are leading the way after a 2-1 win over last season’s champions FC Zürich. Four points separate the leaders from FC Basel who, having been the dominant force in Swiss football until last season, are desparate for the title. They picked up three points easily enough at the weekend with a 2-0 win away at ninth place (out of ten) AC Bellinzona. Third place FC Luzern may have got three points as expected away at bottom side FC Aarau but they still lie a distant twelve points away from the league leaders.