Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

“O Timão” on top of the world leaves Chelsea feeling blue

Posted in European Football, South America Football, UK Football by peterbein on December 16, 2012

Corinthians celebrate their second FIFA Club World Cup title following their 1-0 victory over Chelsea FC

The recent European dominance in the FIFA Club World Cup came to an end today in Japan’s second city of Yokohama as Copa Libertadores champions Corinthians became world champions for the second time with a narrow 1-0 defeat of UEFA Champions League holders Chelsea FC in a final which will hardly go down as a classic but which for followers of O Timão will go down as another chapter in their famous history.

Since fellow Brazilian club Internacional of Porto Alegre won the 2006 version of the FIFA Club World Cup, South American teams had struggled in this competition with European champion clubs winning the previous five tournaments in a row including two victories for FC Barcelona (2009, 2011) and one each for AC Milan (2007), Manchester United (2008) and Internazionale (2010). Corinthians’ victory in today’s final broke the dominance and added to Brazilian football’s wonderful history in this tournament with four title wins comparing to their South American neighbours, no other nation from that particular continent providing a winner of this tournament since it changed its format in 2005.

Corinthians had won the inaugural version of this event in 2000 when a dour final, played against compatriots Vasco da Gama, was decided by a penalty shoot-out following 120 minutes of goalless action. The second title win will perhaps be more celebrated due to the fact that Chelsea FC went into the game as most pundits’ favourites to win the title. Chelsea had qualified for the final with an easy 3-1 win over North and Central American champions Monterrey CF whilst Corinthians had to work harder to overcome the challenge of African champions Al-Ahly in a semi-final which was decided by a single goal from the Brazilians’ Paolo Guerrero, whose presence would ultimately also prove influential in the final.

With twenty minutes remaining, and the game stuck at 0-0, the deadlock was finally broken when Guerrero took advantage of some confused Chelsea defending to head home from close range and spark a mass frenzy of celebration amongst the Corinthians supporters, up to 30,000 of whom are said to have made the journey to Japan to transport the spirit of their São Paulo home Pacaembu stadium to FIFA’s showpiece event.

For interim Chelsea coach Rafael Benítez, the winning coach when Internazionale won the title in 2010, today’s final was a bitter disappointment and there is no doubt that those fans who have failed to warm to him will use this as a stick to beat him with. For Corinthians’ coach Tite, however, legendary status is now assured. Having taken over the coaching role in 2010, Tite led the Paulista club to their fifth Campeonato Brasiliero title in 2011 before sealing the club’s first ever Copa Libertadores title this year following a 3-1 aggregate win over six-time South American champions Boca Juniors. With the world title now in the trophy cabinet it is fair to say that Tite will bask in the celebrations as much as those fans who travelled all that way to see their team triumph in Japan.

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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.

FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – FC Barcelona

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 11, 2011

FC Barcelona club badgeFC Barcelona will compete in this year’s FIFA Club World Cup following a sensational UEFA Champions League triumph in 2011. The Catalans must first face AFC Asian Champions League winners Al Sadd before they can start dreaming of the possibility of winning the world crown for the second time in three years.

FC Barcelona qualified for this tournament having won their fourth European title in the glorious setting of Wembley Stadium in May this year. On their way to the final Barça topped their group over Danish champions FC København, Russian Premier League side Rubin Kazan and Greek Super League champions Panathinaikos before disposing of Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk and arch rivals Real Madrid CF in the knockout stages leading up to a second final in three years against Manchester United. Having seen off United in Rome in 2009, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola would again get one over his United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson watching the Blaugrana turn on the style. A 3-1 victory saw Pedro, Lionel Messi and David Villa get on the score sheet, Wayne Rooney bagging a consolation for United, and a fourth European triumph saw Eric Abidal lift the famous cup aloft and seal a place in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Since Barcelona’s Champions League triumph the club has maintained its push for honours across the board. The club started off the current campaign the way it ended the last one by winning silverware. A controversial Spanish Super Cup victory over Real Madrid was followed up with a 2-0 win against Iberian neighbours and UEFA Europa League winners FC Porto in the European Super Cup. In Europe Barcelona topped their 2011-12 UEFA Champions League group over Italian giants AC Milan, Czech champions Viktoria Plzen and perennial Belarussian title holders BATE Borisov. Barça are, however, facing a tougher challenge domestically this time from Real Madrid with the Catalans currently on the same number of league points as their rivals from the Spanish capital having played a game more.

Barcelona celebrated a 3-1 win over Real Madrid in last night’s El Clásico meaning that they were able to fly out to Japan straight after the match in order to prepare for world glory in a competition in which they’ve suffered mixed emotions. Barcelona have never beaten Brazilian opposition in either the former Intercontinental Cup (lost to São Paulo in 1992) or the FIFA Club World Cup (lost to Internacional in 2006) whereas the Argentinians of Estudiantes de La Plata were put to the sword in 2009 as the final part of the Catalans’ sextuple triumph. Should they meet Santos FC in this year’s final then history will be against Barcelona but with the current team – Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi et al – rated as the greatest ever then a second world title could be winging its way back to the Camp Nou very soon.

FC BARCELONA v MANCHESTER UNITED – CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL GOALS

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: Club World Cup Team Guide – Santos FC

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 9, 2011

Santos FC club badgeBrazilians Santos FC will participate in their first ever FIFA Club World Cup and are hoping to take the title back to South America after a five year period of domination for European clubs. Santos FC, who are based in Brazil’s second city of São Paulo, will face the winner of the quarter-final between Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol and North and Central American CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey CF on December 14th. Should Santos overcome that challenge then a meeting with UEFA Champions League holders FC Barcelona looks the most likely prospect. Having won the old Intercontinental Cup on two occasions back in the halcyon days of Pelé back in the sixties, Santos would revel in winning a world title in its current guise.

Santos qualified for this tournament by virtue of winning their third Copa Libertadores title in 2011, the club’s first win in this competition since 1963. Santos finished second, by virtue of goal difference, in their group behind Paraguayans Cerro Porteño and ahead of Chileans Colo Colo and Venezuelans Deportivo Tachira with a record of three wins, two draws and one defeat in six games. In the knockout phase Santos scraped past Club America in the Round of 16 and 2004 Copa Libertadores champions Once Caldas in the quarter-finals before meeting group rivals Cerro Porteño again in the semis. Having won that round by the odd goal in seven, Santos ended the campaign with a narrow 2-1 aggregate win in a bad-tempered final against Peñarol. Following a goalless first leg in Montevideo Santos made home advantage count in the return fixture. Neymar put Santos ahead just a minute into the second half before Danilo doubled their advantage twenty minutes later. The Uruguayans reduced the arrears with ten minutes remaining to set up a nervous finish but the Brazilians held on to win the Libertadores for the third time in their history.

Since Santos lifted the South American crown back in June they have been involved primarily in their national championship and, with the comfort blanket of a place in next year’s Copa Libertadores already assured, finished the league season in a comfortable tenth place in the 20 team Serie A. If Santos are to lift the FIFA Club World Cup this year they ought to remember not to get too complacent before their semi-final tie against supposedly weaker opponents especially after last season’s Libertadores winners, Internacional of Porto Alegre, went crashing out to African champions TP Mazembe in the semi-finals of the tournament played in the United Arab Emirates.

SANTOS FC v PENAROL FC – COPA LIBERTADORES FINAL, 2ND LEG

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.

FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Espérance Tunis

Posted in African Football by peterbein on December 4, 2011

Esperance logoTunisian giants Espérance will make their maiden appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup following their second CAF Champions League title win, their first such title for seventeen years, which was achieved with a 1-0 aggregate victory over Moroccans WAC Casablanca in the final. Should the Tunis based side overcome the challenge of Asian champions Al Sadd in the quarter-finals, a glamour tie against UEFA Champions League winners FC Barcelona will be on the cards for one of Africa’s most famous clubs.

Espérance began their successful 2011 CAF Champions League campaign by knocking out ASPAC FC from Benin 5-2 on aggregate before Senegal’s Diaraf FC were put to the sword with a 6-0 drubbing. The 24-time Tunisian champions then managed to top their CAF Champions League group ahead of WAC Casablanca, MC Alger and record champions Al Ahly Cairo with a record of two wins and four draws from their six games. Espérance, along with WAC, both went through to the semi-finals of the competition and were able to dispose of Al-Hilal Omdurman and Enyimba FC in their respective matches to set up a showpiece two-legged meeting in the final. In a tight contest the first leg, played in Casablanca, ended up as a goalless stalemate and the return fixture in Tunis was settled by just the one goal which came from Harrison Afful in the 20th minute. The narrow 1-0 aggregate win gave Espérance a long-awaited second African crown and the chance to show off their talents in Japan this year.

Since winning the CAF Champions League in November a new domestic league season has begun in Tunisia with Espérance suffering a mixed bag of results. They opened their 2011-12 Tunisian league account with a 1-1 draw away to EGS Gafsa before recording their first win with a 3-0 score line over Monastir. Their most recent league game saw them lose 2-1 to early season pacesetters Bizertin which leaves Espérance in eighth place of the sixteen team league with just four points to show for their efforts. The only good thing about the timing of their oncoming FIFA Club World Cup quarter-final against Al Sadd is that the Qatari outfit is also in poor domestic form having lost their last two matches in the Stars League. With neither side on a high ahead of their match it is too close to call a winner but, if one thing is certain, it is that both sides will give their all in the hope of meeting the European champions in the semi-finals.

ESPERANCE TUNIS v WAC CASABLANCA, FINAL 2ND LEG GOAL

ESPERANCE TUNIS – CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNING CELEBRATIONS

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.

KASHIWA REYSOL WIN THE 2011 J-LEAGUE v URAWA RED DIAMONDS

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.

AL SADD v JEONBUK HYUNDAI MOTORS – 2011 AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL