Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Serbia: Avram Grant to take over at Partizan

Posted in European Football by peterbein on January 13, 2012
Avram Grant

Avram Grant takes over at Serbian champions Partizan

Avram Grant has taken many pundits by surprise by joining Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade as coach from today.

With fifteen games played so far this season in the Jelen SuperLiga, Partizan have a ten point lead over arch rivals Crvena Zvezda and already look set to continue their recent dominance by winning a fifth consecutive title. Because of this it was all the more surprising to see ousted coach Aleksandar Stanojević have to depart his post which he had occupied since 2010 and had helped win two league titles, one Serbian Cup and helped the team reach the UEFA Champions League in the 2010-11 season.

However it seems that there had been some internal politics at the club which had forced the board to sack Stanojević and appoint Grant who, after a little more than four years in England, was at the point where he was seeking a new challenge. It was only at the end of the 2010-11 season when Grant lost his job at English club West Ham United after he failed to prevent the London club from getting relegated to the Championship (second tier).

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Europe: Real and Benfica seal top spot amid derby triumphs (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on November 27, 2011
Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot against Atletico

Real Madrid (Played 13, Points 34) took the initiative in the Spanish league last night as a 4-1 derby success at home to local rivals Atlético de Madrid was sweetened by a defeat to champions FC Barcelona whose 1-0 defeat to Getafe saw them go six points behind los Blancos at the top of the table. Next door in Portugal, SL Benfica (Played 11, Points 27) have provided themselves with a platform to challenge for the title this season by defeating local rivals Sporting by a narrow 1-0 scoreline.

In the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu last night local honours were once again afforded to Real Madrid who haven’t lost a league match against Atlético since 1999. The visitors did shock the home support by taking the lead through Adrián after quarter of an hour but that would be as good as it got for Los Rojiblancos who would see their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois shown the red card for bringing down Karim Benzema in the box allowing Cristiano Ronaldo to equalize from the penalty spot in the 24th minute. The game ended 1-1 at the break but, not surprisingly, Real took advantage of the extra man to stamp their authority on the game in the second half. Goals from Ángel di María, Gonzalo Higuaín and another penalty for Ronaldo, which brought a red card heading in Diego Godín’s direction, capped off a good night for the home side whose 4-1 victory cemented top spot for at least a couple of hours until the result in the neighbouring suburbs of Getafe was known. A good night soon became a great one with the news later on that FC Barcelona had gone down to a 1-0 defeat to FC Getafe and the six point advantage had been preserved. Juan Valera’s goal midway through the second half proved the killer blow for Barcelona who now must look over their shoulder at the oncoming Valencia CF whose 2-1 defeat away to Rayo Vallecano brought los Che to within one point of the champions.

In neighbouring Portugal the Lisbon derby was played out with all the usual tension one would expect from a Benfica v Sporting game. The match was settled by Javi García with a goal just three minutes before half-time but it was far from plain sailing for the Eagles who saw Oscar Cardozo sent off for a second bookable offence in the 63rd minute. The win was Benfica’s sixth on the trot against their local rivals in all competitions and allowed them the opportunity to enjoy sole possession of top spot in the Super Liga for at least 24 hours until defending champions FC Porto play at home to Sporting Braga this evening. Benfica have 27 points from eleven games but FC Porto will draw level should they claim all three points tonight.

SuperLiga: Morelia claim first title (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on September 2, 2010

New England Revolution’s attempts at winning the North American SuperLiga title for a second time were dashed on Wednesday as they were defeated at home by Mexican opponents Monarcas Morelia by two goals to one in front of a disappointing 10,000 crowd. The Revs had previously won the competition two years earlier having beaten compatriots Houston Dynamo in a penalty shoot-out but any repeat of that triumph was put to the sword after Morelia left the American hosts with too much to do after taking a two goal lead in this game. Miguel Sabah scored midway through the second half from the penalty spot after Colombian striker Luis Gabriel Rey was brought down by New England’s Darrius Barnes. Ten minutes later Monarcas had doubled their lead thanks once again to Sabah whose beautiful left-footed volley gave keeper Matt Reis no chance. New England reduced the arrears in the 79th minute after Kevin Alston calmly slotted the ball home to provide the game with a grandstand finish but Morelia held out to win their maiden title and increase Mexico’s lead over the United States in terms of titles to 3-1.

WATCH SUPERLIGA 2010 FINAL HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

SuperLiga: New England and Morelia in 2010 final (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on August 6, 2010
Tigres UNAL

Mexican side Tigres UNAL lifted the SuperLiga title in 2009. Who will win it in 2010?

For anybody unfamiliar with the SuperLiga one could call it a mini version of a UEFA Europa League or a Copa Sudamericana. I say “mini version” because it is pretty much a best of the rest competition limited to teams from the United States and Mexico with the best four teams who have not qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League from each country allowed to participate in this tournament. Now in its fourth year the SuperLiga shows the Mexicans enjoying more success than the Americans with two titles to one so far, Tigres UNAL winning the title last year after defeating Chicago Fire in a penalty shoot-out after the game finished 1-1. In this year’s competition the group stages, divided into two groups of four teams, were completed in July with each team only having to play their group opponents once. The best four teams in the competition have played in the semi-finals this week and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog brings you the latest action:

New England Revolution, 2008 winners of this event, have qualified for their second final after beating Mexican side Puebla F.C. in a penalty shoot-out after their semi-final contest finished 1-1 after 90 minutes. The Revolution qualified for the semi-finals after finishing top of Group B with a 100% record over Morelia, Chicago Fire and UNAM Pumas and had the home draw against their Mexican opponents, who finished second behind Houston Dynamo in Group A. Kenny Mansally gave the Revs the lead after 56 minutes but the New England outfit were made to pay the price just two minutes later when Nicolás Olivera equalized for Puebla to restore parity so soon after going behind. With no further scoring in the ninety minutes the match went straight into a penalty shoot-out and each team were equal to each other until they took their fourth penalty with the Revs having the advantage once Edgar Lugo hit his kick straight at keeper Matt Reis. Kenny Mansally scored the winning penalty to take former Liverpool man Steve Nicol’s team into their second SuperLiga final.

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS OF NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION V PUEBLA F.C. HERE:

The second semi-final was played between Houston Dynamo, who finished top of group A with two wins and a draw from three games, and Morelia. The Mexicans went through courtesy of a goal just two minutes into the second half after Miguel Sabah coolly finished to give his side a 1-0 lead which they never relinquished. It sets up the third America v Mexico final in the tournament’s four year history with only the 2009 final being an all-American affair. The final takes place in late August and will be hosted at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, the home of the New England Revolution.

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS OF HOUSTON DYNAMO V MORELIA HERE:


Denmark: Superliga begins with the usual suspects as favourites

Posted in European Football by peterbein on July 17, 2010
FC København

FC København have made a regular habit of winning titles in the last decade

The new Danish Superliga begins this weekend and many people will be wondering if there is anybody who can stop FC København (FCK) from claiming another championship. The capital club, formed as recently as 1992 due to a merger between traditional clubs KB Copenhagen and B1903, have won the championship eight times in their history but it is in the last decade where they have maintained a stranglehold of domestic dominance winning the title seven times since 2001 including four of the last five championships, only AaB Aalborg  interrupting their run in the 2007-08 season. Can coach Ståle Solbakken keep the title at Parken Stadion or will one of the other teams finally achieve some league glory of their own?

The league programme kicks off on Saturday in Odense where local club OB, runners up for the last two seasons, will meet Esbjerg fB with the home side most people’s tip to be the team that can end FCK dominance. With former Manchester United players Roy Carroll and Eric Djemba-Djemba, last season’s top scorer Peter Utaka and former AC Milan star Thomas Helveg in the team there is plenty of experience for De Stribede who are an ambitious club but have been starved of success in recent years save for a couple of Danish Cup triumphs in 2002 and 2009. However it is a first league title since 1989 that the third-city club are craving whilst their opponents Esbjerg last won the title over thirty years ago and finished a respectable fourth place last season but were a distant eighteen points behind the champions in the process.

Before FCK came along there was only one team in Denmark who were well known outside of their home country and that was Brøndby IF. The club who gave the world such great players as Peter Schmeichel, Kim Vilfort and the Laudrup brothers have been, by their own high standards, unsuccessful since they achieved the Danish league and cup double in the 2004-05 season. With only the Danish Cup of 2007-08 to show for their efforts since many feel it’s about time that Brøndby IF supplied a major title challenge again and having finished in third place last season they will hope to start this time around with a good win over Randers FC, a small club from northern Jutland who survived in the Superliga by the skin of their teeth having finished just a mere two points ahead of relegated Aarhus GF.

As for the champions they begin their title defence with an away game at SønderjyskE, a team who have just about survived in the top flight since their promotion from Denmark’s 1st Division in 2007-08. The last two seasons have seen the team from southern Jutland (hence the name) finish in tenth and ninth places and their target for this season will be something along the lines of mid-table security. In Zealand, the island on which the capital Copenhagen is located, FC Nordsjælland will face off against Silkeborg IF with both teams fully aware that there was very little other than goal difference separating the two teams last season although in their head-to-head meetings in the 2009-10 season FCN won two of the three games so will have that little advantage going into today’s game in the city of Farum.

The remaining two games in Matchday 1 involve last season’s promoted teams AC Horsens and Lyngby BK. The former went up as last season’s 1st Division champions having pipped the latter to the title by four points. Both teams, who have replaced Aarhus GF and HB Køge in the Superliga, will play against FC Midtjylland and AaB Aalborg respectively upon their return to the top flight. AC Horsens, back in the Superliga after just one season away, will play their first game at home on Sunday whilst Lyngby BK will complete the round of games upon facing the 2007-08 champions from Aalborg on Monday night.

SUPERLIGA FIXTURES – MATCHDAY 1

17/07/2010 Odense Boldklub v Esbjerg fB

18/07/2010 AC Horsens v FC Midtjylland

18/07/2010 Randers FC v Brøndby IF

18/07/2010 FC Nordsjælland v Silkeborg IF

18/07/2010 SønderjyskE v FC København

19/07/2010 Lyngby BK v AaB Aalborg

WATCH VIDEO OF FC KØBENHAVN’S 2009-10 FINAL DAY TITLE TRIUMPH 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.

European Leagues: Winter Break Round-up

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 22, 2009
Samuel Eto'o

Samuel Eto'o is all smiles as his club Internazionale lead Italy's Serie A

With the exception of England, Scotland and France, most of the league championships in Europe have taken a well earned break for Christmas time. “Stoppage Time” reviews the season so far in Europe’s top leagues:

SPAIN

This looks like it will be a two horse race between arch-rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. The Spanish, European and World champions FC Barcelona (39 points from 15 games) hold a slim two point advantage over ‘El Real’ whose performances haven’t always been great but whose capability of getting results has improved. Sevilla looked for a while like a potential ‘stalking horse’ candidate for the title, keeping close to the top but they have slipped off the pace in recent weeks. At the bottom of the table newly promoted sides such as Xerez (7 points from 15 games) and Real Zaragoza have found the going tough. A traditional giant of the Spanish game, Atlético Madrid find themselves just one point from the cellar after a string of poor displays.

ITALY

FC Internazionale of Milan (39 points from 17 games), including striker Samuel Eto’o (pictured) find themselves in charge of Serie A yet again. Going for a fifth consecutive championship, the Nerazzurri’s only challengers to date appear to be local enemies AC Milan, who are eight points behind with a game in hand. The Rossoneri have come back strongly after a really poor start under the stewardship of Leonardo. Juventus appeared to be going well under new coach Ciro Ferrara but have lost their last three games and remain a point further behind Milan having played a game more. At the bottom of the league six points separate Udinese in 14th place from AC Siena in last place (12 points after 17 games), signalling that a tight relegation battle could be just around the corner.

GERMANY

Bayer 04 Leverkusen (35 points from 17 games) remain unbeaten to be crowned the unofficial “Herbstmeister” (autumn champions) in the Bundesliga. However the ‘Werkself’ (Work’s Eleven) have drawn a lot a games meaning that their lead is a narrow one point margin from nearest challengers Schalke 04, who have done well considering their financial troubles. Despite Bayern Munich’s less than impressive start to the season the Bavarian giants are a further point behind Schalke. Louis Van Gaal has withstood the criticism and has guided Bayern to third place at the halfway stage with 33 points. The surprise of the season so far is 1. FSV Mainz 05, who were promoted from the second division last season, who have a respectable eighth place finish after 17 games. Hertha Berlin is the surprise team at the bottom of the table (6 points/17 games), all the more surprising considering they won on the opening day against Hannover 96. Other big clubs close to the bottom are 1. FC Nürnberg, who sacked their coach Michael Oenning on Monday, and VfB Stuttgart, who replaced Markus Babbel with former Tottenham Hotspur coach Christian Gross in early December.

PORTUGAL

The Portuguese Superliga normally has three contenders for the title but one of this year’s contenders is an unfamiliar one: Sporting Braga. They lead the table jointly with SL Benfica (33 points from 14 games) with perennial champions FC Porto four points behind. Many hope that Braga can keep up with the big two especially since the tradional third power of Portuguese football, Sporting, are struggling domestically (21 points/14 games) but performing well in Europe. Also many remember last season’s surprise package Leixões, who led the table early on in 2008-09, falling away late in the season. Could Braga really become only the sixth club (after Benfica, Porto, Sporting, Belenenses and Boavista) to win the Portuguese championship? At the bottome Leixões’ glory days from last season are well and truly behind them as they now are fighting against relegation lying just one point above the bottom two clubs Olhanense and Belenenses (10 points/14 games).

HOLLAND

Steve McClaren has done an impressive job at FC Twente (47 points/17 games) thus far and he’s already hoping to go one better than last season. The club from Enschede were runners-up in both league and cup in 2008-09 but McClaren’s men currently lead the Eredivisie by two points from PSV Eindhoven. PSV’s coach Fred Rutten has given new purpose to the Philips owned club after they lost direction last season under Huub Stevens which led to them weakly giving up their run of four consecutive titles. Ajax, coached by Martin Jol, have suffered a few defeats and are nine points off the pace. Their arch-rivals Feyenoord Rotterdam have also been rejuvenated under new coach Mario Been and a further point behind having played a game more. At the bottom RKC Waalwijk (12 points/18 games) will hope to avoid the automatic relegation spot at the end of the season as they are not far off the teams above NEC Nijmegen, ADO Den Haag and Willem II Tilburg.

GREECE

It’s the same old story in Greece as champions Olympiakos Piraeus are involved in a two-way tussle with league leaders Panathinaikos (38 points/15 games) for the championship. As usual PAOK Thessaloniki threaten to make a fight of it but end up dropping too many points but they should easily get a place in Europe. Athen’s third club AEK have struggled for form and consistency in both Greek and European competition thus far and lie in eighth place on 21 points. At the bottom of the table it’s been a dreadful time for promoted Panthrakikos who remain without a win after fifteen games. They have only two points at this stage and are dead certs for the drop. Above them the likes of Giannina, Levadiakos (14 points), Larissa and Iraklis (15 points) will hope to avoid joining them in the second division next season.

TURKEY

The Turkish Superlig could be one of the most exciting for years. Fenerbahçe (37 points/17 games) lead at the halfway stage by just one point from eternal rivals Galatasaray. Then there are two unexpected title chasers in Bursaspor and Kayserispor (35 and 34 points respectively) as well as last season’s champions Beşiktaş (32 points). “Fener” will miss on the services of Roberto Carlos after the winter break as he heads back to Brazil to finish his career at Corinithians. Last season’s surprise package Sivasspor struggled in the early weeks of the season but will hope that they can take recent good form into the second half of the season. They are ten points ahead of second bottom Denizlispor (7 points/17 games) and seventeen ahead of Ankaraspor who are pointless (numerically speaking, of course) at the halfway stage and look certain for the drop.