DAVID SMITH - Sunday, April 22, 2012
Daniel Antunez and Inter had a successful start to the 2012 Veikkausliiga season while Mike Banner and Jaro were unfortunate to begin their term with a loss at MyPa.
VPS 0 - 2 Inter Turku
Daniel Antunez logged 89 minutes for Inter Turku on Thursday evening, as a pair of first-half goals saw them ease past still winless VPS in their 2012 season opener.
In his first league match since returning to Inter following a year-long stay in Mexico, Antunez lined up on the right side of his team's defense, and helped them clamp down the best efforts of VPS in the shut-out victory.
Inter's opening goal in the 14th minute came in somewhat controversial fashion, with Henri Lehtonen finding a seemingly-offside Severi Paajanen with a pass into the box. The linesman's flag stayed down, however, and Paajanen controlled the ball before firing home for the lead, despite heavy protests from the VPS players and staff.
There was no question about the legitimacy of Inter's second goal three minutes before the half, with the play triggered by a takeaway by Pim Bouwman in the middle of the park.
Bouwman fed Mika Ojala on the run, who drew the attention of VPS and former New York Red Bull keeper Bouna Coundoul, then unselfishly set up Georgian teammate Irakli Sirbiladze to put the ball away into the open net.
VPS saw their calls for a penalty shortly before the hour ignored, as the referee judged Joni Aho's challenge on Steven Morrissey to have been legal.
The hosts did their best to avoid the shut-out, pushing increasingly for a goal as the clock wound down, however Antunez and the rest of the Inter back line held strong for the shut-out.
Inter now occupy fourth in the Veikkausliiga standings, although with one less game played than most other teams in the league. They have a short break before returning to action on Sunday against first-place MyPa.
MyPa 2 - 0 FF Jaro
Mike Banner and Jaro were unable to take anything from their disappointing season opener, with the American picking up a late yellow card in a two-goal loss at leaders MyPa.
After a scoreless first 75 minutes which saw both team hold long periods of dominance, a foul by Jaro defender Ilya Vaganov 30 yards out from goal set up a set piece opportunity for the hosts. Niko Kukka struck his attempt perfectly, with the ball hitting the underside of the crossbar before bouncing over the line for the eventual winner.
Five minutes later, they sealed the win as Jaro pushed for an equalizer, after David Ramadingaye broke free for their second late goal.
Jaro sit last place in the Veikkausliiga standings, and could have a tough time picking up their first points of the season when they visit reigning champions HJK on Monday.
IFK Mariehamn 1 - 1 KuPS
Mason Trafford played the full 90 minutes for Mariehamn on Thursday evening, as they were unable to capitalize on a late sending-off in their draw against visiting KuPS.
KuPS central defender Etchu Tabe was not in uniform for the visitors.
Despite Mariehamn holding the early advantage, KuPS were first on the board after 13 minutes as New Zealander midfielder Chris James found Vjatseslav Zahovaiko in the middle of the penalty area for a low shot to the corner.
The lead was short-lived, with Petteri Forsell pulling the hosts even five minutes later with a left-footed strike.
After the quick start, the game slowly began to lose pace, and the only late excitement came with eight minutes left as Zahovaiko was given his marching orders after drawing a second yellow card for a reckless kick to the chest of Mika Niskala.
Mariehamn, however, were unable to seize hold of the advantage, coming excruciatingly close in the final few minutes, and had to settle for the draw.
Mariehamn how have one point from their first two games, and will look to notch their first win on Sunday when they visit Haka. KuPS are in the middle of the standings with a pair of points, and host TPS on Sunday.