Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Latvia: Three-way battle ensures exciting title race

Posted in European Football by peterbein on October 13, 2011
FK Ventspils

FK Ventspils, seen here with the 2008 title, are favourites to win in 2011

With five rounds of matches to go in Latvia’s Virsliga the title race has been whittled down to three teams. Defending champions Skonto Riga virtually have no chance of winning this year’s competition as they lie in fourth place, 14 points behind league leaders FK Ventspils but the capital side will still play a decisive part in the destination of the title as they must face-off against each of the contenders.

This weekend sees Skonto play host to surprise package Daugava Daugavpils who are in third place, four points behind Ventspils but have played a game more. The biggest game of the weekend, however, will take place on the Baltic coast with the top two of FK Ventspils and Liepājas Metalurgs playing at the former’s home Olimpiskais Stadium. Due to a lack of a credible local rivalry for Skonto, the “Derby of Kurzeme” is the biggest rivalry in Latvia. These teams have won five of the last six championships between them and they are currently separated by three points but Metalurgs have played one game more. Should FK Ventspils emerge triumphant in Saturday’s big match it could provide the Yellow and Blue with a massive psychological advantage. Should Metalurgs win the title race will be all the more exciting especially if Daugava should win their match away in Riga.

But it isn’t just this weekend which will see the top four meet each other. Next Wednesday sees Metalurgs play host to Skonto before the former travel to Latvia’s second city of Daugavpils to play FC Daugava on Sunday week. Should FC Daugava overcome the challenge of Metalurgs then they will go into the October 30th match at home to Ventspils in good heart and a win in front of their supporters would be a great way to end the season. Depending on results FC Daugava will then have to wait to see what their fate will be when Ventspils host Skonto Riga in the final round of matches on November 5th.

At the bottom of the table Olimps/RFS already know that they will participate in the end of season promotion/relegation play-offs. Riga’s lesser known football club only have six points to show from their 29 games and are ten points behind eighth place FK Jūrmala-VV with three matches to play and, thus, unable to catch up.

Europe: Ventspils pay the penalty as Skonto win Baltic League

Posted in European Football by peterbein on June 19, 2011

Triobet Baltic League logoSkonto Riga finally won the Triobet Baltic League for the first time in the club’s history yesterday defeating compatriots and host club FK Ventspils in a penalty shoot out after the match had finished 1-1 in extra-time.

FK Ventspils were the defending champions of the tournament, having won the 2010 final in exciting circumstances against Lithuanians FK Ekranas, and were hoping to become the first club to successfully defend the title. However they were involved in a tight contest with Latvian champions Skonto Riga with both teams cancelling each other out during the regular 90 minutes.

Goals were exchanged during the extra-time period with the visiting side going ahead on the 100th minute mark. Valerijs Šabala, who came on as a late substitute in normal time, gave Skonto the advantage which they preserved until the half-time break in extra-time. However FK Ventspils responded early in the second half with Naoya Shibamura restoring parity in the 109th minute.

The remaining eleven minutes of the extra-time period saw no further goalscoring meaning that a penalty shoot out would decide the destination of the title for the second year in a row. Aleksandrs Fertovs converted the winning goal for Skonto to give Latvia’s record champions a 6-5 shoot out win and their first ever Triobet Baltic League title. This compliments their victory in the Baltic Champions’ Cup earlier in the year in which they won a three team tournament involving each champion club from the component leagues in the Baltic States, namely Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. For FK Ventspils it was disappointing to lose the Baltic League title in front of their home supporters but they are course to win the Latvian domestic double this year having already beaten Liepājas Metalurgs in the 2011 Latvian Cup final and they currently enjoy a six point lead over the same team (with a game in hand) at the top of Latvia’s top flight LMT Virslīga.

Europe: Skonto and Ventspils to meet in Baltic League final (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 25, 2011

Triobet Baltic LeagueTwo of Latvia’s biggest clubs, Skonto Riga and FK Ventspils, will meet in the Triobet Baltic League final which takes place on Saturday, June 18th.

Skonto Riga already had one foot in the final following their 5-0 drubbing of compatriots Liepājas Metalurgs in the semi-final, first leg and today’s second leg proved to be a drab affair. With very few people turning up to watch today’s game in the Baltic coastal town of Liepāja it is no surprise that there wasn’t a great deal of action to talk about. Antons Jemelins’ red card in the 76th minute hindered Metalurgs’ chances further which were put to the sword when the Riga side sealed a 1-0 win in the last minute of the match thanks to a goal from Arturs Karašausks. Skonto won the tie 6-0 on aggregate and who will play in their second Baltic League final hoping to triumph in the competition for the first time having lost to FBK Kaunas in the final of the 2008 edition.

Champions FK Ventspils also had a comfortable passage through to the final and hope to become the first team ever to successfully defend the title following their semi-final victory over Lithuanians FK Šiauliai. Having won the first leg by two goals to nil, FK Ventspils repeated the score in the return fixture on Tuesday with goals from Vladimirs Mukins (55th minute) and Oļegs Žatkins (81st minute) securing a 4-0 aggregate win for the Yellow-and-Blues who are in the midst of a potentially great season for the club. Currently leading the way in the Latvian Virsliga and having already won the Latvian Cup, FK Ventspils’ chances of a treble triumph are very high and for new coach Sergei Podpaly the Baltic title would be another step on the way to restoring Ventspils’ dominance in the country.

A fascinating final match awaits.

WATCH FK VENTSPILS v FK SIAULAI 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

Europe: Skonto and Ventspils have one foot in Baltic final

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 4, 2011

Triobet Baltic League logoLatvian clubs Skonto Riga and FK Ventspils hold the advantage following the Triobet Baltic League semi-final, 1st legs which have taken place over the last two nights.

In an all-Latvian clash Skonto Riga took on 2007 Baltic League champions Liepājas Metalurgs in the second such clash in less than a week. In the Latvian league match played last weekend Metalurgs defeated Skonto 2-0 at their home stadium and were hoping for a repeat in tonight’s Baltic League fixture. But Skonto, the only one of Latvia’s traditional big three not to have won this competition, have as good as secured themselves a place in the 2010-11 tournament final as they put five goals past their rivals and gained some revenge for Saturday’s setback. Skonto took a solitary one goal lead into the break with Igors Tarasovs breaking the deadlock four minutes before half-time. The floodgates opened in the second half with Renārs Rode doubling Skonto’s advantage in the 54th minute before Nathan Junior added a third midway through the second half. Two late goals from Ruslans Mingazovs and Artūrs Karašauskas sealed the deal for Skonto and they are almost certain to progress to the final barring any disasters in the second leg.

On Tuesday FK Ventspils travelled to Lithuania to play their semi-final, 1st leg against FK Šiauliai. The Lithuanians are going well in their domestic league just three points behind leaders FK Ekranas whilst defending Baltic League champions FK Ventspils are a similar distance behind Latvian league leaders Metalurgs. The game was tight in the first half with both teams limited on chances and going into the half-time period with a goalless score line. Ventspils broke the deadlock in the second half after Vladimirs Bespalovs in the 57th minute and the three-time Latvian champions took the game in their stride. A goal for Olegs Žatkins three minutes into stoppage time put the result beyond doubt and gives FK Ventspils the perfect opportunity to reach back-to-back finals.

The second legs will be played on May 24-25.

Europe: Skonto win Baltic Champions’ Cup

Posted in European Football by peterbein on January 9, 2011

Baltic Champions' CupLatvian champions Skonto Riga have added another honour into the trophy cabinet having won both of their games in this weekend’s Baltic Champions’ Cup.

Skonto wrapped up their 15th Latvian championship two months ago and this weekend’s indoor tournament was the perfect opportunity to begin preparing for next weekend’s CIS Cup, the tournament for former Soviet state champions, which takes place in St Petersburg. Skonto began the Champions’ Cup with a Friday evening match against Lithuanian champions FK Ekranas, the only previous winners of this trophy five years ago. The game was goalless until deep into the second half when Brazilian substitute Nathan Junior gave Skonto the lead in the 68th minute just sixty seconds after coming on for Evaldas Ražulis. Three minutes later Skonto had doubled their lead when Alexsandrs Fertovs slotted home from close range and the hosts were seemingly starting to coast the game. However there would be a slight scare six minutes from time when Aurimas Kučys pulled one back for the visitors but Skonto held out for the three points.

Estonian champions Flora Tallinn made their maiden appearance in this competition in the Saturday game against FK Ekranas who were hoping to restore some pride following the defeat to Skonto. However they would suffer further torment against Flora who dominated the game from start to finish in a heavy 6-1 rout of Lithuania’s A-Lyga holders. Hannes Anier opened the scoring after three minutes followed by a brace by Sander Post which gave Flora a commanding 3-0 lead inside the half hour mark. Ekranas pulled one back in the 37th minute through Nenad Panič only for Flora to restore the three goal margin just four minutes before the half-time interval through Sergei Mušnikov. It took a while before Flora completed the scoring but did so in fine style after substitute Rauno Alliku bagged a brace in the last ten minutes.

A winner-takes-all match was set up nicely for Sunday afternoon when the Latvian and Estonian champions faced off. Flora had the better goal difference before the game and, thus, could afford the draw if they were to win the title but Skonto had other ideas as they set their stall out very early with two goals in the first six minutes from Andrejs Perepļotkins and Renārs Rode. The game remained at 2-0 throughout the remainder of the first half with the score line extended midway through the second half when Nathan Junior helped himself to the third, giving Skonto a healthy lead. Flora, to their credit, showed some fight and were able to pull back two goals with Sander Post and Valeri Minkenen (penalty) setting up a grandstand finish with five minutes of normal time remaining. However it would be Skonto who would strike agin to make certain of the trophy when Junior bagged his second of the game three minutes into stoppage time. Skonto had won their first Baltic Champions’ Cup and still have hopes of doing a Baltic double later this year as they resume their Triobet Baltic League campaign in April.

Europe: Ekranas, Flora and Skonto look ahead to Baltic Champions’ Cup

Posted in European Football by peterbein on January 6, 2011

Baltic Champions Cup 2011The Baltic Champions’ Cup, the first of many a pre-season indoor tournament in Eastern Europe in the next two months, takes place in the Olympic Sports Centre in the Latvian capital of Riga this weekend in a mini-tournament exclusive to the national champions of the three domestic leagues in the Baltic States.

Lithuanian champions FK Ekranas Panevėžys already have experience in this competition having won the only other edition to have previously taken place in 2006. At that time the tournament was played outdoors and was a precursor to what would become the Triobet Baltic League (TBL) which is now the more established cross-border football tournament in that part of the world. Nonetheless FK Ekranas, who got the better of Liepājas Metalurgs and TVMK Tallinn in the inaugural event five years ago, now hope to add the scalps of Skonto Riga and Flora Tallinn to the list as they set about defending their crown.

The year 2010 was a great one for Latvian champions Skonto Riga and their Estonian counterparts Flora Tallinn who are both back in the big time following their first league title successes for six and seven years respectively. As well as this tournament they will participate in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Cup in January before renewing battle in the TBL come April. For all three clubs there is the added bonus of UEFA Champions League qualifiers to come this year so each of the teams involved will be very active in trans-national football comeptition in 2011.

This weekend’s tournament sees all of the teams play each other once only over three days. Here is the fixture list and local kick-off times for the event:

Friday 07/01/2011: Skonto Riga v FK Ekranas Panevėžys 17:45

Saturday 08/01/2011: FK Ekranas Panevėžys v Flora Tallinn 13:15

Sunday 09/01/2011: Flora Tallinn v Skonto Riga 13:45

Away Days: Skonto Riga v FK Jaunība Riga

Posted in Away Days by peterbein on November 7, 2010

Sunday, October 30th, 2005: Skonto Riga, fourteen times champions of Latvia with all of those titles won consecutively from 1991-2004 in order to create a world record, have finally been deposed from their number one position. Their opponents on this day are Liepājas Metalurgs who, only the week before, clinched their maiden Latvian league title with four matches left to play such was their domination in that season. It was fitting that my first ever match on my first ever visit to the beautiful Baltic state of Latvia involved the two aforementioned teams and it was this match, a 1-1 draw with much attacking play, that developed my interest in the game in this part of the world. Many people in my home town of Liverpool (and, no doubt, beyond) think that I’m mad for following Latvian football, and Skonto Riga FC in particular, but it is footballing world far removed from the hype and money obsessed world of the English Premier League and it makes a refreshing change to see football so laid-back as it is there.

Following Metalurgs’ 2005 title success came three-in-a-row for FK Ventspils between 2006-08 and then Metalurgs won their second crown in 2009. It was a painful period for Skonto as they saw their two main rivals win most of the silverware but that was now all in the past as there was no doubting the fact that Skonto Riga were the best team in the LMT Virslīga in 2010. After a five year wait I was finally going to see Skonto FC play a match with the status as champions of Latvia and as I went to the stadium with just twenty minutes to go before kick-off I noticed a familiar face outside the ground. It was none other than Latvian football legend Vitālijs Astafjevs, Europe’s most capped international footballer with 165 appearances for his country to date, who will be known to fans of English club Bristol Rovers for whom he graced the club colours for three years before heading back eastwards. If I was surprised to see and be able to talk to Astafjevs then I was more surprised to meet the Skonto FC and Latvia national coach Aleksandrs Starkovs. For anyone without any knowledge of Starkovs he is a true legend of the game both as a player and a coach. His exploits in the latter category have seen him win twelve league titles and six national cups, all with Skonto, and in 2010, his first season back in charge of Latvia’s record champions, he managed to end Skonto’s six year trophy drought.

Before their final home match of the season Skonto FC had scored the most goals in the league (80) and conceded only sixteen goals, which was the second best record in the league. After clinching the title last week Skonto put on a champions performance against FK Jaunība, who were already as good as relegated before the game began. Yesterday’s game showed the gulf in class between the league’s best and worst sides as Skonto completed dominated possession and territory hardly allowing the visitors to leave their own half of the pitch. Despite Skonto’s dominance they went in at half-time with only a two goal lead, Alans Siņelņikovs opened the scoring in the 23rd minute with left foot thunderbolt in the top left corner and Brazilian Nathan Junior doubled the lead with a headed goal on the half-hour mark.

At the half-time break I met some guys from South London who were all Crystal Palace fans except for one whose allegiances lay firmly with Millwall. Not only did we agree in our assumptions about the cozyness and laid-back attitude of Latvian football (they were particulary impressed at having met two ex-Crystal Palace players – Andrejs Rubins and Aleksandrs Koļinko – at the game) but also a mutual loathing at how English football seems to have lost its soul in its dire pursuit of all things financial. We even spoke about the Bundesliga and I was surprised to find out that one of the Palace fans was also a huge Eintracht Frankfurt, a bit like yours truly, so for me it was a great experience talking to them although they had to miss the second half of the game so I’ll let them know that they missed a pretty good last 45 minutes of the Latvian season.

Skonto FC (in blue) dominated the match against local rivals FK Jaunība

After the chat it was back to the footie and the second half continued in much the same vein as the first with chance after chance for Skonto. It didn’t take them too long to score goal number three, Nathan Junior again found the net to keep up his impressive goalscoring record for the season. Following that it took until the final ten minutes of the match for the game to truly come alive as Skonto scored three more times thanks to David Janelidze, Igors Tarasovs and another from Junior whose hat-trick came from the penalty spot. For the Brazilian the match topped off a perfect season in which he was the Virsliga’s joint top-scorer with eighteen goals along with Liepājas Metalurgs’ Deniss Rakels. At the final whistle the small but boistorious Skonto hardcore following “H-Side” gave the team a great send-off showing their appreciation by setting off flares into the Riga sky. This culminates a season in which Skonto won the league with 69 points from 27 matches, six ahead of second place FK Ventspils, and will see Latvia’s finest enter the UEFA Champions League at the 2nd qualifying round next season. For FK Jaunība it’s back down to the Pirma Līga after just one season in Latvia’s top flight.

A convincing win for the champions

Latvia: Skonto Riga win 15th championship (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on October 31, 2010

Skonto RigaIt’s been a long wait for Latvia’s most decorated club but Skonto Riga finally clinched a record extending 15th LMT Virslīga title today following a 2-2 draw at home to nearest challengers FK Ventspils. The point gained meant that Skonto maintain a six point cushion at the top of the table with just one match remaining and for coach Alexsandrs Starkovs signals the beginning of a new era for his beloved club after six years without a major trophy.

With 65 points from 25 games and a six point margin before today’s match kicked off Skonto were already virtually assured of the title. The only way the title would go down to the final week would be if FK Ventspils were to beat their hosts in today’s game. With head-to-head records being used in Latvia for the first time this season, and with both clubs having had one win apiece in their previous two league meetings, it was imperative for FK Ventspils that they win today, reduce the gap at the top to three points and hope that Skonto would lose their final home game next week. But for Skonto only a point was necessary but they earned it the hard way having to come from behind twice.

FK Ventspils gained the initiative as early as the 13th minute when Artūrs Zjuzins gave the vistors the lead and restored hope to the Yellow and Blues that a fourth championship crown might be heading its way back to Latvia’s Baltic coast. However parity was restored with seven first half minutes remaining thanks to Kaspar Dubra. With the game tied at 1-1 at the break it was finely poised for a second half showdown and only the most determined team would make or break this encounter. That team appeared to be FK Ventspils when, in the 53rd minute, Jurijs Žigajevs re-established the lead for FKV and all they had to do was make sure that they kept hold of the advantage. Alas that advantage was lost in the final quarter of the match. In the 74th minute Igors Tarasovs scored Skonto’s second leveller of the day and so the initiative returned to Starkovs’ men who just needed to resist any further attacks from their opponents until the final whistle.

Cue the final whistle and the celebrations could begin for the Latvian capital side. For coach Alexsandrs Starkovs it was a fantastic season back at the helm for the man who guided Skonto to eleven consecutive titles between 1993-2004. In his absence only one further title was added, the 2004 championship under Jurijs Andrejevs, before Englishman Paul Ashworth took over the reins from 2005-2009 in what sadly proved to be a largely unsuccessful period. Having seen arch-rivals Liepājas Metalurgs and FK Ventspils lift the last five championship titles between them it is finally time for Skonto FC to re-capture their glory days and call themselves Latvia’s Number 1 once more.

NOTE: Stoppage Time – International Football Blog will be in Riga next week to see Skonto’s final match of the season against local rivals FK Jaunība, a game you can read about in our Away Days section.

WATCH SKONTO RIGA v FK VENTSPILS HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

 

Latvia: Skonto big winners as Metalurgs beat Ventspils (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 22, 2010

The Latvian Vīrsliga took another interesting twist in the championship race today as Skonto Riga now enjoy a five point lead over their nearest title rivals FK Ventspils. After Skonto had put a dent into Liepājas Metalurgs’ title ambitions last week it was to be Skonto, Latvia’s most successful club, who would be celebrating again after this weekend’s round of games went very much in their favour. Early Sunday afternoon saw Metalurgs, the defending champions, start the day in fourth place after FC Daugava’s 1-0 win over FK Jaunība Riga saw the team from Latvia’s second city of Daugavpils leapfrog Metalurgs. If the champions were to regain any title ambitions they had to beat FK Ventspils away from home in the game known as the “Derby of Kurzeme”, named after the region home to the two cities on Latvia’s Baltic coast.

The game started off nervously but there were a few chances for either side but for the first fourty five minutes neither side had their shooting boots on and the game remained goalless at the break. The second half was a different game altogether with the champions going two goals up by the 53rd minute mark thanks to strikes from Kristaps Grebis and Takafumi Akahoshi. The home side won a penalty kick with just a quarter of an hour remaining and Jurijs Žigajevs halved the deficit from the spot but this didn’t deter Metalurgs from attacking their hosts and the game was sealed with another goal for Grebis in the 77th minute and the game was put to bed by Jurģis Kalns sixty seconds into stoppage time. There was still enough time for Žigajevs to score his second of the game for FK Ventspils but by then the damage was done and the champions had got their season back on track.

WATCH FK VENTSPILS v LIEPAJAS METALURGS HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

This result meant that Skonto Riga could increase their lead in the standings with a win over SK Blāzma Rēzekne and Alexandrs Starkovs’ men would do that in fine style. Brazilian Nathan Junior has been amongst the goals this season and he bagged a brace to give Skonto a two goal lead after 24 minutes and the lead would be increased two minutes later by Andrejs Perepļotkins to give the capital club a 3-0 lead at the break. In the second half Aleksandrs Cauņa made it 4-0 just two minutes after the restart and he would score his second of the game on 79 minutes. The final goal of the game came from Alans Siņeļņikovs with five minutes to go and it capped an easy day’s work for Skonto who now look forward to two difficult games against fourth place FC Daugava and second place FK Ventspils on Matchdays 17 and 18 respectively. After Matchday 18 the final lap of fixtures (i.e. Matchdays 19-27) for each club will be determined in accordance with league placings. At the moment Skonto lead the table with 43 points from 16 games, FK Ventspils have 38 points whilst Metalurgs are a further five points behind. FC Daugava in fourth place have 32 points and are serious about challenging for a place in the UEFA Europa League next season especially as their win over FK Jaunība on Saturday was the club’s sixth win in seven games. At the bottom things remain tight as only five points separate Latvian Cup winners FK Jelgava in sixth place (16 games, 15 points) from FK Jaunība at the bottom in tenth spot.   

Europe: Summer Leagues Special (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on June 13, 2010
Aleksejs Višņakovs

Aleksejs Višņakovs was on the scoresheet for FK Ventspils in their 2-1 win at home to Skonto Riga

Although the focus for the next four weeks will heavily be centred upon South Africa and the FIFA World Cup, Stoppage Time – International Football Blog will continue providing the latest news in some of the European leagues which take place throughout the summer months. In Latvia yesterday there was a top of the table clash between FK Ventspils and Skonto Riga, Lithuania saw a new leader in the A Lyga championship race whilst in Estonia there are three teams on the same number of points at the top of the table. We also keep you up to date with the latest news from Belarus and Finland.

The biggest game of the weekend in Latvia was between FK Ventspils and record champions Skonto Riga, the latter having a six point lead over FKV before the match kicked off. A crowd of one thousand turned up for the game and, after a goalless first half, it was the home supporters who were cheering first in the 48th minute when Aleksejs Višņakovs received a long ball into the penalty box, controlled it neatly with his right foot and guided it home from ten yards out to give FKV the lead. Six minutes later and it got better for Nunzio Zavettieri’s Ventspils side when captain Grigory Chirkin received the ball midway inside his own half as Ventspils broke on the counter attack. Chirkin then went down the left before cutting inside and unleashed a shot from just outside the box which Skonto keeper Kaspars Ikstens was unable to hold onto and the Yellow and Blues had a two nil lead. Skonto did pull a goal back late on when Armands Pētersons shot low into the bottom right corner to halve the deficit but FK Ventspils managed to hold out for a much-needed victory. With defending champions Liepājas Metalurgs also winning their game at home to FC Tranzits by two goals to nil it was imperative for FK Ventspils to win in order to stay in touch with the title chasers. After yesterday’s games Skonto still lead the table with 25 points from 10 games, FK Ventspils have 22 points from 9 games and Metalurgs are a further point behind having also played nine games. Watch FK Ventspils v Skonto Riga highlights HERE:

In Lithuania there is a new leader, for at least twenty hours anyway, as defending title holders FK Ekranas won 5-0 at home against FK Mažeikia with Ramūnas Radavičius and Vīts Rimkus each scoring a brace and Egidijus Varnas scoring the other one to put FK Ekranas level on points with FK Žalgiris Vilnius. The capital side play later today against third-placed FK Sūduva in a match which could have important consequences for the title race. FK Sūduva, fresh from qualifying for the Triobet Baltic League final earlier in the week, will go to within a point of the top two if they can beat second-placed Žalgiris so it’s an important match for all concerned.

The Estonian Meistriliiga is shaping up into a fascinating three horse race with traditional powers Flora Tallinn and Levadia Tallinn fighting it out with surprise challenger FC Trans Narva. FC Flora, who lost out to FK Ventspils in the Triobet Baltic League semi-finals this week, beat FC Lootus 4-0 away from home and were grateful to learn that FC Levadia, champions for the last four seasons, had dropped two points at home to JK Nõmme Kalju in a goalless stalemate. FC Trans’ 3-0 home win against FC Kuresaare took them to the forty point mark, the same number as the Tallinn “Old Firm”, but FC Trans have played 19 league matches so far compared to FC Flora’s 16 and FC Levadia’s 17.

Finland’s Veikkausliiga could prove to be a tight contest this season as there are ten teams separated by just seven points although some teams have yet to play their ninth game whilst some teams already have done so. Friday night saw JJK Jyväskylä beat FF Jaro by three goals to one with striker Tommi Kari getting on the scoresheet twice whilst on Saturday AC Oulu kept up their title challenge with a 3-0 win away at FC Lahti thanks to a brace from Mika Nurmela and a lone strike from Jean Ngambe Ngambe. Defending champions HJK Helsinki are amongst the six teams playing on Sunday, facing off against MyPa in their Matchday 9 tie, whilst second-placed Honka Espoo face KuPS Kuopio and FC Haka plays against bottom club IFK Mariehamn. Two further games on Monday, FC Tampere v TPS Turku and Inter Turku and VPS Vaasa, complete the round.

The 14th round of games will take place on Monday in the Belarussian Vysshaya Liga with BATE Borisov in their usual first place position in the table. They have a five point lead as they go into their match with fifth-placed FC Minsk whilst second-placed Dinamo Minsk will fancy their chances of keeping up with BATE with a win at home to third bottom side FC Neman Grodno. Poor old Partizan Minsk have still to win a game in the championship, having only scored two points from thirteen games, and will seek that maiden victory away at eighth-placed Lokomotiv Vitebsk.