The first silverware of the new year in Welsh football was handed out today as Carmarthen Town eventually saw off their Welsh Premier League Cup final opponents The New Saints in an eventful goal-fest at Latham Park, Newtown.
The New Saints, leading the current Welsh Premier League standings by seven points from nearest challengers Prestatyn Town, struck first with Steve Evans giving his side the lead after just seven minutes. Parity was restored just three minutes before half-time when Carmarthen Town, who currently lie in seventh place in the Welsh Premier League table, got back into the game through Craig Hughes. After the break further strikes were traded between both teams in a topsy-turvy fashion. The New Saints regained the lead after Sam Finley’s shot went in off a post on 58 minutes only for Carmarthen Town to turn things around following a brace from sub Corey Thomas, helping his team to a 3-2 lead. However, the game was to take a further twist when TNS’s Michael Wilde equalized with six minutes remaining helping to take the game into extra-time.
In the following thirty minutes of extra-time there were no further goals and, thus, the game required a penalty shoot-out to decide the winner of the trophy. In the ensuing shoot-out it was Carmarthen Town who kept their nerve, prevailing by a 3-1 scoreline. Craig Hanford scored Carmarthen’s fourth penalty to make it 3-1 and then saw victory secured when TNS’s Paul Harrison had his spot kick saved. Carmarthen’s success was only their second such triumph in this competition having previously beaten Rhyl FC to win the 2004-05 edition of the tournament.
Many of European football’s domestic knockout competitions were in action over the last few days and there has been plenty of shocks, goals and action along the way. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the most significant action from across Europe.
BELGIUM: Defending title holders KAA Gent comfortably got through their Round of 32 tie against KVK Tienen. Among the goals was Tim Smolders scoring twice as Gent strolled to a 4-1 victory. RSC Anderlecht, in contrast, were made to work hard against third division side URS de Centre progressing 4-1 in a penalty shoot-out following a 2-2 draw after extra-time. Club Brugge, Standard Liege and current league leaders Racing Genk are some of the big clubs who progress following a Round of 32 largely devoid of shocks.
CROATIA: The biggest shock in Croatia came in Split where the defending cup holders Hajduk were defeated at home by NK Istra 1961 at the Round of 16 stage. With the game goalless after 90 minutes Emir Hadžić scored the only goal of the game and shocked the home side who now go out of the tournament. It was plain sailing for Hajduk’s arch-rivals Dinamo Zagreb who scored both of their goals in a 2-0 away win at NK Karlovac before the half-hour mark.
DENMARK: League leaders FC København were roundly defeated at home by AC Horsens in the biggest shock in the Round of 16. Four different players were on the score sheet for the visitors who silenced the home crowd, coming away with a 4-2 win at the Parken. On Thursday 2009-10 cup winners FC Nordsjælland had to make the tough trip to Odense and emerged as 3-2 winners whilst in the other all-Superliga clash Esbjerg fB defeated Silkeborg IF by two goals to nil with both strikes coming in the first half.
ENGLAND: The big boys had it their way again in the English League Cup Round of 16. Title holders Manchester United, looking for a third consecutive win in this competition, finally scrapped to a 3-2 win at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers while Arsenal FC made easier work of Newcastle United who succumbed to a 4-0 home defeat. Aston Villa needed thirty extra minutes to see off second tier Burnley FC with a 2-1 win and Birmingham City needed the lottery of a penalty shoot-out to defeat Everton’s conquerors Brentford F.C.
FRANCE: The Coupe de la Ligue witnessed two big games which resulted in knockouts for Olympique Lyonnais and Girondins de Bordeaux at the hands of Paris Saint Germain and Saint-Étienne respectively. AS Monaco had to fight all the way at home to Lorient eventually going through by virtue of penalties whilst they will meet defending champions Olympique Marseille team in the next round after l’OM toughed out a 1-0 victory away at EA Guingamp.
GERMANY: As ever in Germany the cup saw plenty of amazing goals and shocks. DFB-Pokal holders FC Bayern München scraped their way past Werder Bremen with the most successful side in German Cup history winning 2-1 over the second most successful thanks mainly to the efforts of Bastien Schweinsteiger. Eintracht Frankfurt thrashed Hamburger SV by 5-2 to qualify for the Round of 16 whilst the big shocks happened in Aachen and Offenbach after those cities’ respective teams Alemania and Kickers knocked out the top two from the top flight. 1.FSV Mainz 05 lost 2-1 away in Aachen and Borussia Dortmund, who had high hopes for this competition, went down to a penalty shoot-out loss in Offenbach following a goalless 120 minutes of football.
ITALY: Not too many of the big boys enter the Coppa Italia at the Round of 32 stage but those who did play this week had plenty to smile about. Current Serie A leaders SS Lazio had an easy 3-0 home win against Portogruaro Summaga while Udinese thrashed Padova Calcio by four goals to nil. It was a bit tougher for the likes of AC Fiorentina and Genoa FC as they needed extra-time to see off Empoli FC and US Grosseto respectively. The likes of AC Milan, Juventus FC and defending title holders Internazionale FC enter in the next round.
POLAND: Jagiellonia Białystok, 2009-10 cup winners, sealed their passage through the Puchar Polski Round of 16 stage after a narrow 1-0 away win at Korona Kielce with Maciej Makuszewski scoring the only goal of the game. League champions KKS Lech Poznań defeated KS Cracovia 4-1 whilst Cracovia’s eternal enemies Wisła Kraków scraped a 1-0 home win in the 87th minute against Widzew Łódź thanks to Maciej Żurawski. Capital side Legia Warsaw sealed a 2-1 win away at Śląsk Wrocław whose season goes from bad to worse. Lechia Gdańsk and Ruch Chorzów needed penalty kicks in order to qualify against ŁKS Łódź and OKS 1945 Olsztyn respectively.
ROMANIA: CFR Cluj-Napoca, winners of the Cupa Romaniei for the last three years, sealed their passage through to the Round of 16 with a 2-0 home win against Târgu Mureş to keep up their great recent record in this competition. Record title holders Steaua Bucharest are also through thanks to holding thier nerve in 3-1 a penalty shoot-out win over FC Sportul Studenţesc. Unirea Urziceni, however, went out as a Bruno Moraes goal was enough to seal Gloria Bistriţa’s place in the next round. FC Timişoara, Dinamo Bucharest and FC Brașov are amongst some of the other clubs that have made it through.
SCOTLAND: Same old story in Scotland’s CIS League Cup competition as Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers kept up their dominance by progressing past this week’s quarter-final matches. Celtic, though, very nearly blew it after taking a three goal lead after 13 minutes allowing their hosts St. Johnstone to reduce the deficit to 3-2 but the Bhoys ultimately went through. Rangers, fresh from their Old Firm league victory three days earlier, were far from their best against Kilmarnock but still went through to the last four with a 2-0 win. Aberdeen FC and Motherwell FC make up the quartet of teams remaining as they knocked out Falkirk FC and Dundee United FC respectively.
SPAIN: Real Madrid CF are used to shocks in the Copa del Rey in recent years and they very nearly faultered again but their Round of 32, 1st leg match against Real Murcia ended goalless. Record Copa holders FC Barcelona made a good start defeating Ceuta 2-0 whilst current holders Sevilla FC easily disposed of Real Unión 4-0, a scoreline bettered by last season’s losing finalists Atlético de Madrid who put five past a hapless Las Palmas side. Athletic Bilbao hold a narrow 1-0 advantage over Alcorcon, the team who knocked Real Madrid out of last season’s Copa.
SWEDEN: The Svenska Cupen saw two eventful semi-finals this week. On Wednesday second division Hammerby IF blew a 2-0 lead in normal time but were able to go through after a pulsating 4-3 penalty shoot-out win over Allsvenskan side Kalmar. Thursday night saw Helsingborgs IF beat Mjällby AIF by two goals to nil and book their place alongside Hammerby in the final to be played on November 13th.
TURKEY: Türkiye Kupasi Play-Offs having taken place this week with the winners of each of the sixteen ties joining defending champions Trabzonspor and the top three teams in last season’s league championship, namely Bursaspor,Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray in the group phase. Beşiktaş sealed their place on Thursday with a 3-0 victory over Mersin İdmanyurdu with Guti and Bobô (2) grabbing the goals during the extra-time period. Sivasspor’s season went from bad to worse following their 2-1 home defeat by Manisaspor.
UKRAINE: Kubok Ukrainy Round of 16 saw the Big Two of Ukrainian football cement their places in the next round of the comeptition. Shakhtar Donetsk saw off the challenge of lower league FC Poltava with a 2-0 scoreline whilst Dynamo Kyiv also booked their spot with a 2-1 defeat of fellow Premier League club PFC Sevastopol. FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, who knocked out last season’s winners Tavriya Simferopol in the previous round, gave recently appointed coach Juande Ramos something to smile about with a 3-0 away win at Kremin Kremenchuk whilst Karpaty Lviv got the better of surprise 2008-09 cup winners Vorskla Poltava with a 3-0 win in front of their home fans.
WALES: The biggest score in Europe came in the Welsh Premier League Cup semi-final 1st legs with The New Saints, looking for a third consecutive title, thrashing Bangor City by a massive nine goals to nil. Bangor City, who have a perfect 100% record after eleven matches in the Welsh Premier League, fielded a weakened side and TNS made them pay with Jamie Wood scoring a hat-trick and two players, Scott Ruscoe and Alex Darlington bagging a brace each. The other semi-final, 1st leg tie was a much tighter affair with Llanelli AFC gaining a 1-0 win away at Aberystwyth with Stuart Jones getting on the score sheet.