Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Triobet Baltic League: FK Ventspils win dramatic final

Posted in European Football by peterbein on July 10, 2010

FK Ventspils were crowned Triobet Baltic League champions of 2009/10 last Sunday in a dramatic final against Lithuanian side FK Sūduva in the latter’s home stadium in the town of Marijampolė. In what was a game of many chances it was a surprise that it took until the 82nd minute of the contest for the final’s opening goal to appear. Alexandru Dedov opened the scoring for FK Ventpils and when the game reached stoppage time it appeared that the Yellow and Blues would hold out for the win. However a goal from Ricardas Beniušis saved the Lithuanians’ hopes of glory and took the game into extra-time and this was when the fun really began. Two goals in first half extra-time from Jurijs Žigajevs and Michael Tukura appeared to have settled the game in Ventspils’ favour but more late drama was to come from Sūduva. Beniušis scored his second goal of the game with six minutes remaining and then, deep into stoppage time there was another last-gasp equalizing goal for the home side, this time from substitute Andrius Urbšys, to take the game into the lottery of a penalty shoot-out. After a game of this quality it was a shame that anybody had to lose but that fate fell upon FK Sūduva whose extra-time saviour Andrius Urbšys was the unlucky man to miss his penalty and, thus, allowed Grigori Chirkin to seal the 5-3 shoot-out win and celebrate becoming Baltic champions for the first time. Watch Match Highlights HERE:

Triobet Baltic League: Mixed Emotions for Latvian Clubs

Posted in European Football by peterbein on June 9, 2010
Triobet Baltic League

The finalists for the 2009-10 Triobet Baltic League are now known

Any hopes of a second all-Latvian final in the Triobet Baltic League competition have been dashed by the 4-2 aggregate defeat to Latvian champions Liepājas Metalurgs in their encounter with Lithuanians FK Sūduva. On Tuesday FK Ventspils had ensured their semi-final triumph over first-time semi-finalists from Estonia FC Flora Tallinn with a goalless draw helping to preserve the Latvians’ two goal lead from the first leg. It is the second time in a row that teams from Latvia and Lithuania will meet in the final after FBK Kaunas’ 2-1 victory over Skonto Riga in the 2008 tournament final.

FK Ventspils, three-time Latvian champions, got the better of maiden semi-finalists FC Flora and it was not one, but two men with the name of Višņakovs who secured the team on Latvia’s Baltic coast their first leg 2-0 win. With only seventeen minutes played it was Aleksejs Višņakovs who gave FKV the lead and it was his namesake Eduards Višņakovs who sealed the deal late in the game with a well struck effort in the 72nd minute. The second leg had some chances for both sides but neither could find their shooting boots. This would be of no concern to Nunzio Zavettieri’s Ventspils side who defended their two goal cushion from the first leg to put themselves into their second Triobet Baltic League final. Now they had to wait to see who would join them.

Current Latvian champions Liepājas Metalurgs lost their heads in the first leg of their semi-final to FK Sūduva going down to a catastrophic 3-0 defeat at the hands of their opponents in the Lithuanian town of Marijampolė. Nerijus Radžius and Karolis Chvedukas scored in the last ten minutes of the first half to give Metalurgs a major wake-up call which they never heeded. Povilas Lukšys increased Metalurgs’ misery with just ten minutes of the match remaining and to leave their dispirited opponents with it all to do in the second leg. Despite the deficit things started promisingly for Metalurgs in the return fixture when Oskars Kļava put the home team ahead after 17 minutes to reduce the aggregate score to 3-1. The Lithuanians, however, would not just roll over and allow the 2007 Baltic League champions to come back easily. Instead their defence stifled attack after attack and with only ten minutes of the game remaining equalized to put things beyong reasonable doubt thanks to prolific striker Povilas Lukšys. Metalurgs did score a consolation in stoppage time through Genādijs Soloņicins but, by then, the damage was already done. FK Sūduva triumphed 4-1 on aggregate to qualify for their first Triobet Baltic League final and a meeting with FK Ventspils, both of whom will look to secure a maiden triumph in this competition.

The final takes place on Sunday, July 4th at a venue yet to be decided by the tournament organizers.

Triobet Baltic League: Semi-Final Preview

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 25, 2010
Flora Tallinn

Flora Tallinn are the first Estonian club to reach the semi-finals of the Triobet Baltic League

The Triobet Baltic League resumes on Wednesday night with the semi-final first leg matches and, if results go to form, there is still the possibility of a repeat of the first ever final between FK Ventspils and Liepājas Metalurgs which was played in 2007. Many neutrals though will be hoping that either FK Sūduva from Lithuania or Flora Tallinn, a first-time semi-final representative for Estonia, can upset the apple cart and reach the final. With the semi-final second legs not due to be played until June 8-9 all teams involved will be hoping to take an advantage into the return fixtures next month.

Flora Tallinn are perhaps the biggest surprise out of the remaining quartet especially as they came from behind to win their quarter-final second leg against Lithuanian league leaders FK Ekranas. With the first leg finishing scoreless the writing seemed to be on the wall for Flora when Vīts Rimkus opened the scoring for FK Ekranas after 51 minutes but the five time A Lyga (Lithuanian league) champions hadn’t reckoned on Flora’s team spirit. Alo Dupikov equalized for the Estonians on 62 minutes and the game was sealed with Valeri Minkenen dispatching a 77th minute penalty to send the Flora players and fans wild. Flora, who are currently joint top of the Estonian Meistriliiga with arch-rivals Levadia, face tough opposition in the form of FK Ventspils who were losing finalists in the inaugural edition of this competition in 2007. After a couple of recent slip-ups in the Latvian Virslīga and knocked out of the Latvian Cup at the quarter-final stage, FK Ventspils are determined to get their hands on this trophy and coach Nunzio Zavettieri’s troops have home advantage in the first leg on Wednesday and will hope to make the most of it.

FK Ventspils - Liepajas Metalurgs

Will FK Ventspils and Liepājas Metalurgs face each other again in the Triobet Baltic League final?

Liepājas Metalurgs were the inaugural champions of this tournament back in 2007 but were surprisingly knocked out  by compatriots FK Rīga in the following year’s competition. German coach Rüdiger Abramczik will be quietly confident that his team can get a result in the first leg in the southern Lithuanian town of Marijampolė as his team are well rested having last played ten days ago. However FK Sūduva’s most recent domestic match saw them hit FK Klaipėda for six and they lie in third place in the A Lyga with just four points separating them from joint leaders Žalgiris Vilnius and FK Ekranas. In the quarter-final stage of the Baltic League both teams had tough hurdles in front of them but managed to get over them in the end. In an all-Latvian quarter-final Liepājas Metalurgs secured a pair of narrow 1-0 victories against a Skonto Riga side who, under new coach Alexsandrs Starkovs, wanted to go one better in this competition than in 2008 when they were losing finalists. However Oskars Kļava and Vitalijs Kavaliauskas scored in the first and second legs respectively to give Metalurgs a meeting with FK Sūduva who scraped past Estonian champions Levadia Tallinn with a solitary Povilas Lukšys strike being the difference between the two sides over two legs.

TRIOBET BALTIC LEAGUE SEMI-FINALS

1st Leg – May 26th, 2010

FK Ventspils (Latvia) v Flora Tallinn (Estonia)

Liepājas Metalurgs (Latvia) v FK Sūduva (Lithuania)

2nd Leg – June 8th, 2010

Flora Tallinn v FK Ventspils

2nd Leg – June 9th, 2010

FK Sūduva v Liepājas Metalurgs

Triobet Baltic League: Semi-Final Quartet Decided (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 5, 2010
Sergey Shumilin

Sergey Shumilin was crucial to FK Ventspils' progression to the semi-finals

The quarter-final second legs of the Triobet Baltic League, the cross-border competition in the Baltic States, have been completed today and it’s going to be an interesting final four. There’s still the possibility of an all-Latvian final as that country’s two remaining clubs have been kept apart in the draw. Hoping to stop them will be the one sole Lithuanian representative and the first team from Estonia to make it through to this stage of the competition. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” reviews the latest developments in the tournament.

Last season’s losing finalists Skonto Riga have endured a pretty tough week in cup competitions after their compatriots FHK Liepājas Metalurgs completed a 2-0 aggregate win over their arch-rivals from the Latvian capital. Skonto, who were surprisingly eliminated from the Latvian Cup last week by newly-promoted FK Jelgava, went down to a 58th minute Oskars Kļava goal in the 1-0 first leg defeat on the Baltic coastal town of Liepāja. However Skonto were playing with many of the team that had started off the domestic league season with a 100% record after four games so were confident of overturning the deficit. Sadly, for Riga’s finest, the luck just wasn’t with them. First they had an Andrejs Perepletkins goal disallowed in the 16th minute as the ball had gone out of play before the cross was turned home and then, just eight minutes later, Metalurgs took the lead after Lithuanian striker Vitalijus Kavaliauskas struck from close range after a penalty box scramble. Metalurgs would hold out comfortably for the win and now the club are hoping to win their second Triobet Baltic League title after clinching the inaugural competition in 2007. You can watch video highlights of Skonto FC – Liepājas Metalurgs here:

With two teams in the last eight of the competition Estonian hopes of progressing in the tournament rested on the Tallinn duo of FC Levadia and FC Flora. The former, who have won the last four Estonian league titles, held out against Lithuanian side FK Sūduva to a goalless draw in the first leg on away ground so were quietly optimistic of achieving a result in the home leg played on Tuesday. Alas it was Povilas Lukšys who would kill off Levadia’s dream by scoring a crucial away goal in the 36th minute of the match and the Lithuanians progressed through by a slender one goal aggregate margin.

FC Flora had to fight all the way in their quarter-final against Lithuanian champions FK Ekranas Panevėžys with goals hard to come by throughout the contest. After the first leg in Tallinn remained goalless there seemed to be a strong possibility of the same outcome affecting the second leg. The breakthrough came after 52 minutes when veteran Latvian striker Vīts Rimkus gave FK Ekranas the lead. Flora came back in fine fashion just ten minutes later when substitute Alo Dupikov restored parity for the visitors and this was followed by Finnish midfielder Valeri Minkenen securing the victory via the penalty spot with just thirteen minutes remaining to turn the match on its head. The home side, now down to ten men through the red card shown to goalkeeper Vytautas Černiauskas for the penalty decision, didn’t have enough time to come back and FC Flora created history for Estonian football by becoming the country’s first semi-finalist in Triobet Baltic League history.

In the final match of the round FK Ventspils went through to the semi-finals with a 3-1 aggregate win over FK Vėtra Vilnius thanks mainly to the striking prowess of young Russian striker Sergei Shumilin who netted twice in the tie. Shumilin, who joined the club in April from PFC CSKA Moscow, scored the winner in the 2-1 first leg in the Lithuanian capital before sealing the deal with the only goal of the second leg at home.

TRIOBET BALTIC LEAGUE SEMI-FINAL DRAW

FK Sūduva v Liepājas Metalurgs

(1st Leg May 26; 2nd Leg June 8th)

FK Ventspils v FC Flora Tallinn

(1st Leg May 25; 2nd Leg June 9th)

Triobet Baltic League resumes after winter break

Posted in European Football by peterbein on April 4, 2010
FBK Kaunas

FBK Kaunas won the 2008 Triobet Baltic League beating Skonto Riga 2-1 in the final. Who will win the 2009-10 competition?

The Triobet Baltic League (TBL), a cross-border competition for teams from the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia), resumes this week at the quarter-final stage of the competition. In comparison to the previous two editions that took place there is a more even spread of teams at this stage, geographically speaking, with Latvia and Lithuania having three teams left in the competition whilst Estonia, who had no teams involved in the last eight of the previous two tournaments, has two teams remaining in the competition. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” charts you through the short history of this tournament and will preview the quarter-final fixtures.

The original idea for this tournament came in 2006 after the only edition of the Baltic Champions’ Cup was played involving the champions from the individual Baltic domestic leagues in 2005. Lithuanian team FK Ekranas won the tournament on goal difference from Latvian champions Liepājas Metalurgs with Estonians TVMK Tallinn losing both their games. At this time the Scandinavian Royal League was also active with teams from Denmark, Sweden and Norway taking part and provided further inspiration for what was to become the Baltic League in its inaugural competition in 2007. Ironically the Baltic League has continued to thrive, especially under the sponsorship of betting firm Triobet (hence the tournament name), whilst the Royal League has been inactive since 2006-07 due to financial problems, scheduling issues and a lack of interest from supporters.

Perhaps the perceived lack of strength in depth in each of the individual football leagues in the Baltic region has whet the fans’ appetite for a Baltic league. Another factor could be the continuing success of basketball’s equivalent Baltic League (BBL) showing their footballing counterparts how a tournament of this nature can work. In the first edition of this competition Latvian clubs dominated with the inaugural TBL final being an all-Latvian affair between arch-rivals Liepājas Metalurgs and FK Ventspils with the former winning the two-legged final 8-2 on aggregate. In 2008 a record 7,000 crowd saw Lithuanian side FBK Kaunas win the second edition of the competition defeating Latvian record champions Skonto Riga 2-1 in a showpiece one game final played at Skonto Stadium.

The format has changed for the third edition of this tournament with the UEFA Champions League style group stages gone and replaced by a straight knock-out system involving the top sixteen teams in the region. Each nation is given five automatic places into the competition and then the country of the previous tournament’s winning club gets a sixth participant (hence Lithuania began this tournament with six teams). FK Vėtra Vilnius were given a bye into the quarter-final stage due to the expulsion from the tournament of FC Dinaburg, the Daugavpils based club having been involved in allegations of match fixing. The 2008 TBL champions FBK Kaunas also had no place in the 2009-10 edition due to their enforced relegation to the Lithuanian third division meaning that their place was taken by 7th placed FK Šiauliai. The new format seems to appeal to fans and sponsors with each round being a two-legged affair up until the final which will be a one-off game, the host venue for which will be decided later in the tournament.

The first two quarter-final, 1st leg matches take place on Tuesday with teams from differing nations facing up to each other. Flora Tallinn, joint-record champions of Estonia, play at home against FK Ekranas with both teams in winning form in their domestic leagues. Flora are just two points behind Meistriliiga leaders Levadia Tallinn and have won four of their six league games so far. FK Ekranas have won both of their opening games in Lithuania’s A Lyga including Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of FK Mažeikiai. In the other Tuesday night game Lithuanians FK Vėtra Vilnius, who have two wins from three games in their domestic league, plays against Latvian team FK Ventspils whose experiences in the 2009-10 UEFA Europa League group stage will stand them in good stead. With the new Latvian league season not starting until this Saturday FK Ventspils are a little out of match practice so this may give the Lithuanians a slight advantage.

Wednesday sees the tie of the round between current Latvian champions Liepājas Metalurgs and record Latvian champions Skonto Riga take place with the former hosting the first leg. There has been a rivalry between these two teams since Metalurgs became the first team to stop Skonto’s record of fourteen consecutive national championships in 2005 and games between these two giants of the Latvian game seldom disappoint. The fourth quarter-final is between Estonian champions FC Levadia Tallinn and FK Sūduva from Lithuania both of whom are unbeaten so far in their domestic leagues. FC Levadia beat their local rivals Flora 2-1 in Saturday’s derby match whilst FK Sūduva’s 0-0 draw at home to Žalgiris Vilnius allowed them to share top spot with FK Vėtra and FK Taurus, all of whom have seven points from nine after three matches.

TRIOBET BALTIC LEAGUE QUARTER-FINALS (teams on left at home first)

FC Flora Tallinn (Estonia) v FK Ekranas (Lithuania)

FK Vetra Vilnius (Lithuania) v FK Ventspils (Latvia)

1st Leg 05/04/2010; 2nd Leg 05/05/2010

FHK Liepājas Metalurgs (Latvia) v Skonto Riga (Latvia)

FC Levadia Tallinn (Estonia) v FK Sūduva (Lithuania)

1st Leg 06/04/2010; 2nd Leg 04/05/2010

As an added bonus check out the goals from the 2008 Triobet Baltic League final here: