Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Greece: Cissé fires Pana into Champions League

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 25, 2011
Djibril Cisse

Djibril Cisse's two goals against AEK secured Panathinaikos the second Champions League spot

Panathinaikos have won the end of season play-offs, which determine who will be the second team to represent Greece in next season’s UEFA Champions League, having defeated AEK Athens by two goals to nil in tonight’s match.

Djibril Cissé was the hero for Panathinaikos who, having lost out to Olympiakos in the fight for the Super League title this season, were made to work hard for the second Champions League spot even though they started the play-off phase with a two point advantage over tonight’s opponents AEK. Nonetheless “Pana” knew that a win for them would clinch second and this they did thanks to French international Cissé who scored both of his goals within ten second half minutes.

In the other play-off game PAOK Thessaloniki did what they had to do to keep up the pressure on Pana in case of any slip ups by beating Olympiakos Volos with a comfortable 5-1 margin with goals for Dimitrios Salpingidis (2), Adelino Vieirinha, Diego Arias and Zlatan Muslimovic helping the home side ultimately clinch second place.

1. PANATHINAIKOS Played 6, Points 13

2. PAOK THESSALONIKI Played 6, Points 12

3. AEK ATHENS Played 6, Points 8

4 .OLYM. VOLOS Played 6, Points 6

Greece: Olympiakos all but seal title against Pana (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on February 20, 2011

This weekend saw another in the series of the not-so-subtly named Derby of the Eternal Enemies between defending Greek Super League champions Panathinaikos and record champions Olympiakos. The latter were the home side and were leading the table by seven points before Saturday’s game kicked off in Piraeus, the port town just outside of the Greek capital Athens.

Olympiakos had lost the first derby of the season in October with Panathinaikos winning 2-1 to ensure that the title race would be a two-way affair between Greece’s most successful clubs. Olympiakos lost out on the 2009-10 title to their arch-rivals which was the first time in six years – and the second time in fourteen years – that the Thrylos (the Legend) had had to play second best. Seeing Panathinaikos lift the league and cup double was too much to bear for the Olympiakos faithful who, after a disastrous 2009-10 campaign in which they saw three coaches come and go, welcomed back Spaniard Ernesto Valverde to the dug out for the second time. In his previous spell as Olympiakos coach Valverde won the 2008-09 league and cup double and, having endured an unsuccessful year back in his homeland with Villarreal CF, he was more than happy to venture back to the Piraeus club for a second spell at the start of the current season.

WATCH OLYMPIAKOS FANS WELCOME THE TEAMS BEFORE THE GAME

The move looks like it will pay off for Olympiakos who, having defeated Panathinaikos on Saturday with a 2-1 home victory, now lead the Greek Super League standings by ten points with just seven games left to play. Olympiakos took the lead in the 20th minute after Kevin Mirallas broke away from the Panathinaikos wall from a free-kick to fire the ball from close range. Sebastian Leto equalized for Panathinaikos thirteen minutes after the half-time interval which cranked up the tension in the Karaiskakis Stadium and with both teams really needing the victory to help their title chances the game became frought with fouls and dirty play. However the home side were to enjoy the final say in this particular encounter after Rafik Djebbour put Olympiakos ahead in the 89th minute to seal the three points and all but secure the club’s 38th championship in the process.

WATCH MATCH HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Euro Leagues Round-Up

Posted in European Football, UK Football by peterbein on March 28, 2010
Luca Toni

Luca Toni scored the winning goal in AS Roma's 2-1 victory over Internazionale

This weekend could prove to be one of the most crucial in the season in many of Europe’s top leagues. In Italy defending champions Internazionale have been showing the pressure in the last two months and a famous 2-1 win for AS Roma over the Scudetto holders means that the Giallorossi are just one point behind Inter. Elsewhere FC Bayern suffered a shock 2-1 home reverse at the hands of improving VfB Stuttgart whilst in Portugal a crucial 1-0 win has given SL Benfica a six-point cushion over nearest challengers Sporting Braga. The English Premier League saw Manchester United and Chelsea thrash their opponents whilst Arsenal FC conceded a last-minute equalizer to drop two points further behind in the race for the title. There were also crucial matches in Greece and Turkey whilst the championship was decided in Andorra.

Serie A has practically been a one-horse race for the last three seasons and it looked like that scenario would continue earlier in the season when Internazionale FC enjoyed an eight point lead after the Milan derby in January. However the Nerazzurri have wobbled a bit since then and their lead is now just a single point from AS Roma after the capital side enjoyed a 2-1 win at the Stadio Olimpico thanks to goals from Daniele de Rossi and Luca Toni, the latter enjoying a personal renaissance since his return to his homeland from FC Bayern. AC Milan, meanwhile, could only manage a home draw against SS Lazio and are three points behind Inter as a result. Marco Borriello gave the Rossoneri the lead from the penalty spot after 18 minutes but it didn’t take long for Lazio to get back on equal terms as Stephan Lichtsteiner restored parity in the 32nd minute to leave Milan frustrated.

In the German Bundesliga it looked like service as usual for FC Bayern when Ivica Olić gave the Munich side the lead after 32 minutes but their southern rivals VfB Stuttgart struck goals either side of half-time to leave FC Bayern, who qualified for the German Cup final earlier in the week, visibly stunned. Christian Träsch scored from 24 metres to equalize in the 41st minute and then Ciprian Marica headed home from short range after a beautiful cross to the far post from Cacau to give the Swabians the three points. In the big game at the BayArena home team Bayer 04 Leverkusen lost 2-0 against Schalke 04 to lose further ground behind the top two. Having gone unbeaten in the first 24 matches of the season Leverkusen have now lost three of their last four games. Two goals from Kevin Kuranyi helped to give the side from Gelsenkirchen a two point lead over FC Bayern ahead of the big clash between the top two next Saturday.

It was business as usual for Manchester United in the English Premier League as the champions comfortably won 4-0 away at Bolton Wanderers with two of the goals coming from Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov. A Jlloyd Samuel own goal and a late strike from United substitute Darron Gibson kept the Red Devils on top from Chelsea FC who were impressive in their 7-1 demolition of Champions League hopefuls Aston Villa. Frank Lampard scored four goals, including two from the penalty spot, along with goals for in-form Florent Malouda (2) and Solomon Kalou to rout the team from Birmingham whose heavy schedule in recent weeks may be starting to take its toll on Martin O’Neill’s side. Title hopefuls Arsenal FC were just seconds away from an away win at Birmingham City after an 83rd minute goal from substitute Samir Nasri looked to have given The Gunners all three points. However it was another substitute, Kevin Phillips, who would have the final say as his goal two minutes into stoppage time gave The Blues a share of the points and dented Arsenal’s hopes of title glory. Manchester United lead the way with 72 points after 32 games, one ahead of Chelsea and four ahead of Arsenal.

In other leagues SL Benfica, fresh from winning the Portuguese League Cup last weekend, now have one hand on the Superliga trophy after defeating second place Sporting Braga 1-0 at home thanks to a goal in the 44th minute from Luisão. The win takes The Eagles six points clear with six games to play and now has Benfica fans dreaming of their team winning a possible treble as they still have a chance of continental glory in the UEFA Europa League. The Turkish Süper Lig continues to fascinate with the top four teams separated by five points with seven matches left to play. Leaders Bursaspor lost 2-1 at Istanbul BB on Friday night leaving it up to the big three to try and catch them. Last season’s champions Beşiktaş had to come from two goals down to beat sixth placed Eskişehirspor 3-2 whilst in the big derby match on Sunday Fenerbahçe beat eternal rivals Galatasaray 1-0 to move into second place three points behind Bursaspor. In Greece Panathinaikos have all but sealed the title having won 3-0 away at Atromitos with top scorer Djibril Cissé amongst the goals. Champions Olympiakos could only draw 0-0 at home to Škoda Xanthi whilst PAOK Thessaloniki conceded a stoppage time goal to lose 2-1 away at Larissa and cannot now possibly catch Pana who have a six point lead over second place Olympiakos with two matches still to play.

In Andorra FC Santa Coloma have won the Primero Divisio title for the second time in three years, and fifth title overall, having drawn against local rivals and only challengers UE Santa Coloma 1-1 to win the championship by three points.

Euro Leagues Round-Up: Part 2

Posted in European Football by peterbein on March 2, 2010
Jadson

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.