Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Europe: L’OM through to final; Real defeat Atleti; Cups Review

Posted in European Football, UK Football by peterbein on January 21, 2011

There’s been plenty more action in European domestic cup competitions this week including the French League Cup semi-finals, Coppa Italia, English and Scottish FA Cup replays as well as the completion of the German Cup 3rd round following the postponement of two games in December due to bad weather. With further played in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey Stoppage Time reviews the best of the action.

Montpellier HSC and Olympique Marseille will contest the 17th Coupe de la Ligue final in April after chalking up respective victories over Paris Saint Germain and AJ Auxerre in the semi-finals. An Olivier Giroud goal in second half extra-time proved the difference as Montpellier reached the tournament showpiece. Marseille, the defending champions, reached consecutive finals having put AJ Auxerre to the sword with a 2-0 win with goals from Brandao and Gignac.

The Derby della Capitale took centre stage in the Coppa Italia as AS Roma and SS Lazio faced off in another typically feisty derby match. A goal from Simplicio in the 77th minute gave AS Roma the win after both teams had scored from the penalty spot early in the second half. Napoli sealed their place on Tuesday with a 2-1 home win against Bologna whilst Wednesday saw Sampdoria go through via a penalty shoot out at home to Udinese. The one game on Thursday night witnessed an easy win for AC Milan over AS Bari with the San Siro side going through 3-0 thanks to goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexander Merkel and Robinho.

Copa del Rey holders Sevilla FC became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals on Tuesday defeating Villarreal 3-0 in the second leg of their quarter-final tie, going through 6-3 on aggregate. Goals from Renato, Freddie Kanoute and Alexis gave the Andalucians a semi-final tie against Real Madrid who recorded a 1-0 victory on Thursday over local rivals Atletico Madrid. Second division Real Betis made a brave attempt to claw back a five goal deficit against record holders FC Barcelona but, in the end, the Catalans went through 6-3 on aggregate despite losing the second leg 3-1. Barcelona look forward to a meeting with Almeria who disposed of Deportivo 4-2 on aggregate.

There were replays in England’s FA Cup with Premier League teams getting the better of lower league opponents. The biggest game saw eleven times winners Arsenal FC defeat Leeds United 3-1 at the latter’s Elland Road stadium on Wednesday thanks to Samir Nasri, Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie. On Tuesday there were wins for Manchester City (4-2 v Leicester City), Wolverhampton Wanderers (5-0 v Doncaster Rovers) and Stoke City (2-0 v Cardiff City) giving the top-flight plenty of representation in the oncoming 5th round.

In the Scottish Cup there was a big shock on Tuesday as third tier Ayr United got the better of SPL side Hibernian FC by a Mark Roberts goal to nil piling the pressure on the Easter Road side who have not enjoyed a good season. Dundee United ultimately got the better of second tier Ross County winning 4-3 in a penalty shoot out in a repeat of the 2010 Scottish Cup final. There were also wins for Dunfermline Athletic (5-3 v Montrose), St Mirren (6-1 v Peterhead) and Partick Thistle (1-0 v Falkirk FC) whilst drawn matches involving Stenhousemuir/Stranraer (0-0) and Greenock Morton/Airdrie United (2-2) will have to be replayed at a later date.

Tuesday saw the completion of the Round of 16 in the KNVB Beker with wins for Eredivisie sides Groningen FC, RKC Waalwijk, NAC Breda and VV Noordwijk. They saw off determined opponents in the form of SC Genemuden, Achilles 29 Groesbeek, Telstar Velsen and Sparta Nijkerk respectively.

There were just two matches to play in the Round of 16 in Germany’s DFB Pokal with top flight sides securing wins over lower league opposition in games postponed from before Christmas due to bad weather. Srdjan Lakic was the hero for 1.FC Kaiserslautern scoring a hat-trick in his club’s 4-1 win over TuS Koblenz whilst a brace for Timmy Simons sealed progress for 2007 cup winners 1.FC Nurnberg in their 2-0 victory against 3. Liga side Kickers Offenbach.

Two matches were played in the group stage of the Turkiye Kupasi, one of which saw Galatasaray secure their passage to the quarter-final stages following a goalless draw away at Antalyaspor in their roup A encounter. In Group C capital club Ankaragucu still have a chance of progressing to the last eight following a Monday night 1-1 draw at home to Bucaspor. The visitors have now completed their group campaign and currently lie in second place but a win for Ankaragucu in their final match against Yeni Malatyaspor will see them take Bucaspor’s spot.

The Kypello Elladas saw the quarter-final first legs played out, amongst the four ties were two of the Greek games classic fixtures. Defending cup holders Panathinaikos fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of capital rivals AEK Athens whilst record cup winners Olympiakos Piraeus could only draw a north/south grudge match 1-1 against PAOK Thessaloniki. Olympiakos Volou have one foot in the semi-final draw having won 2-0 away at AO Kerkyra whilst on Thursday Atromitos got the better of Diagoras Rhodes FC by a similar scoreline.

In Portugal’s Taça da Liga the group stages are in full swing with two rounds of games completed in each of the four third-round groups which will determine who this year’s semi-finalists will be. Group A is led by Nacional who hold a three point advantage over FC Porto after beating Gil Vicente 4-1 on Wednesday. Two-time winners SL Benfica, Paços de Ferreira and Sporting top groups B, C and D respectively.

The Kypello Kyprou on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus saw the conclusion of three of the eight Round of 16 ties this week with the stand-out fixture between Apollon Limassol and APOEL Nicosia with the former winning 3-1 on aggregate following a 2-0 home success on Wednesday. There were also wins for Ethnikos Achnas and AEK Larnaca with respective wins over Ermis Aradippou and Doxa Katakopias.

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.

Away Days: Dundee United v Ross County

Posted in Away Days, UK Football by peterbein on May 16, 2010

“Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” has been on a journey to Glasgow to watch the final of the 125th Scottish Cup take place at Hampden Park between Scottish Premier League (SPL) club Dundee United and Scottish First Division (second tier) minnows Ross County, the first club from the Highlands of Scotland to reach this showpiece occasion in the competition’s history.

Three friends and myself went to Scotland’s national stadium on Saturday afternoon having had a drunken introduction to Glaswegian nightlife the previous evening only hours after arriving from a four hour drive from Liverpool. On the occasions that conversation with the locals turned to football most people’s reaction was the same; “So you’re going [to] the game? Who do you support?” Within moments of realizing that we were neutrals, two of whom from Scouseland and the other two from Germany, natural surprise would set in; “What do you want to watch that for? Unbelieveable!” But then maybe this reaction is natural from people in a city whose natives are so used to having either one or the other, if not both, of its two giant football clubs Celtic or Rangers play in the final every year. More surprising was that we had tickets for the Ross County section of the ground which was deliberate on our part because it was a truly historic occasion for the club from the small Highland village of Dingwall (population 6,000) whose team were in its first ever major cup final. Their opponents Dundee United had only ever savoured cup final success on one occasion in 1994 when the Terrors defeated Glasgow Rangers 1-0 thanks to a goal from Craig Brewster who, ironically, would be sitting on the bench for Ross County at Hampden Park as County’s assistant to manager Derek Adams.

So as we set off for the stadium it was obvious to all concerned that we should have a pre-match pint but all of the pubs in the vicinity had queues which stretched for what seemed like miles. Having finally managed to squeeze a couple of beers before the game the time was nigh to take the road to Hampden which was considerably shorter for us then it was for the two clubs who had both claimed some big scalps in the tournament before reaching the final. Dundee United had prevented Glasgow Rangers’ quest for the domestic Treble at the quarter-final stage when, in a replayed game, David Robertson claimed a dramatic last-gasp winner for the Tangerines whilst Ross County’s exploits were even more incredible, defeating Hibernian 2-1 in their replayed quarter-final before disposing of cup favourites Glasgow Celtic in the semi-finals thanks to goals from Steven Craig and Martin Scott. But could the Staggies claim a third big scalp or would this be a hurdle too far for the minnows?

The teams come out to a colourful reception at Hampden Park

The first half of the game, played in front of a crowd of 47,122 which was much larger than anticpated, was light on real goalmouth chances but Dundee United were usually the team that looked more likely to make a breakthrough at some point as they ran the Ross County defence ragged attimes in the first 45 minutes. The best chance of the half came with ten minutes remaining when County’s Alex Keddie came from seemingly nowhere to block a clear opportunity for Danny Swanson who was through on goal after playing a one-two with David Goodwillie. With the game goalless at the break many County were crossing their fingers that they could strike early in the second half and put the pressure on Dundee United but, when the whistle re-started the game, the Tangerines were the only team who looked like they could win the game having a few decent chances before the deadlock was finally broken with an hour of the match gone. County ‘keeper Michael McGovern, who had at times looked indecisive in his penalty box, came out to try and clear the ball only for it to fall to Goodwillie whose impressive lob sent the hoardes of Dundonians in the stadium wild. Craig Conway would go on to complete the scoring for United in the 75th and 86th minutes with two nicely taken goals to give Peter Houston his first silverware as coach after he took over from Craig Levein earlier in the season.

For Ross County the dream was finally over but their 15,000 strong contingent, including two Scousers and two Germans, gave the side the rapturous send-off the team deserved for what was a fantastic cup run for the Highland club and their followers will hope that they don’t have to wait another 125 years to make a second appearance in Scotland’s showpiece cup final. Dundee United, on the other hand, were celebrating their second ever Scottish Cup success and the party was only just beginning.

Dundee United complete their lap of honour after the Scottish Cup final