DAVID SMITH - Thursday, April 26, 2012
Aaron Wheeler was key as KooTeePeel pulled off a huge upset over Daniel Antunez and top-flight Inter Turku while Mike Banner and Jaro were unable to hold off HJK Helsinki in midweek Finnish Cup action.
KooTeePee 2 - 1 Inter Turku
KooTeePee forward Aaron Wheeler was the hero on Wednesday afternoon, putting away a pair of penalties for his team as they scored a huge overtime upset over Daniel Antunez and current Veikkausliiga leaders Inter Turku.
The game was a rather drab affair through the first half, with Inter's only real chance coming in the 43rd minute when Solomon Duah's effort was easily stopped by KooTeePee keeper Lauri Pirhonen.
The hosts, who are on the cusp of beginning their Ykkönen season, scored the opening goal in the 73rd minute thanks to a handball call on Inter defender Henri Lehtonen, with Wheeler stepping up to sink the resulting spot kick for 1-0.
Seven minutes later, Inter equalized on a brilliant effort from Mika Ojala, who looked a cut above as he beat Pirhonen to goal to force overtime.
Twelve minutes into the first extra period, Inter were again done in by an error in the box, as Joni Aho knocked Wheeler down in the box. The American brazenly opted to take the resulting spot kick himself, and made no error with his powerful kick, giving his team the upset win.
KooTeePee will now face HJK in the quarterfinals on May 9, but must first shift their focus to the beginning of their league campaign, which kick off on Friday evening with a trip to HIFK.
While ultimately coming away empty-handed, Inter still sit atop the Veikkausliiga standings, and will look to protect their lead on Sunday with a trip to Lahti.
HJK Helsinki 2 - 1 FF Jaro
Mike Banner played the full 90 minutes for FF Jaro on Thursday, as their second straight game against Finnish powerhouse HJK Helsinki ended with another defeat.
Jaro looked strong defensively in the first half-hour and nabbed the lead in the 29th minute, when Simon Skrabb picked out Papa Niang from the right edge of the field for a fine finish.
Ten minutes later, Helsinki pulled even, with Nikolai Alho sending in a pinpoint cross for Sebastian Mannström to head in past Jaro keeper Jesse Öst.
Knowing they were outmatched by their hosts, Jaro spent much of the second half defending heavily and trying to hit their opponents on the counter, however it all unraveled with 16 minutes on the clock.
17 year-old striker Joel Pohjanpalo, who had just entered the game at the hour, fired a wicked shot from outside the area, which grazed the outstretched hands of Öst and flew into goal, giving his team the win.
Jaro are still looking for their first league win, and will host also-winless KuPS on Sunday.
Mason Trafford was a 79th-minute substitute in IFK Mariehamn's defense on Wednesday, as the team was able to put away third-tier IF Gnistan in a 4-1 road win.
Etchu Tabe did not play on Wednesday as KuPS advanced to the next round of the Finnish Cup, maintaining a scoreless draw with TPS through 120 minutes, but coming away 8-7 victors in a penalty shootout.