The group stage of Finland’s domestic pre-season tournament, the Liigacup or league cup, came to an end on Saturday. The line-up for the quarter-finals, to be played on Wednesday the 21st and Friday the 23rd of March, is now confirmed.
Group 1 finished on Wednesday with TPS thrashing Haka 4-0 to give them the best record of all the teams in the group stage (won 5, drawn 0, lost 1). Haka, already two goals down at the interval, had to play most of the second half with ten men after their full-back Antti Ojanperä was sent off on account of two yellow cards. Finland international Mika Ääritalo was amongst the scorers for TPS, whose Turku neighbours FC Inter also made it through to the next round with a victory over Haka, who finished third in the group ahead of IFK Mariehamn but failed to secure one of the places in the next round awarded to the two best third-placed teams in the group stage.
A 2-0 victory for FC Lahti over MyPa in a dead rubber brought group 2 to a close, as Lahti picked up their only win of the tournament but MyPa progressed anyway in third place. The timing of the match, starting one hour after the TPS-Haka game, meant that MyPa knew their place in the next round was secure by the time they started the second half, and somewhat predictably, the match saw no more goals from that point onwards. Poor timing by the competition’s organisers, who are also responsible for running the Veikkausliiga. FC Honka and HJK went through as the top two teams in the group, though neither of them managed to pick up a win in their final round of matches: Honka drew at Lahti while HJK lost 1-3 at MyPa to finish off their inconsistent campaign (won 3, drawn 0, lost 3).
Group 3 went down to the wire, with the fate of three teams resting on the outcome of KuPS vs VPS on Saturday afternoon. The two teams in question both needed at least a point to stay in the competition, while JJK would go through with any result other than a draw. With only the slightest whiff of conspiracy, KuPS and VPS traded goals in a brief spell in the second half before settling on a result of 1-1, which they both knew would be good enough to take them through. Eliminated JJK have a right to feel hard done-by, as they were victims of both the fixture schedule and the closest group of the competition; their points tally of seven would have been good enough to take them through in either of the other two groups. But it wasn’t to be, as KuPS and VPS were joined by group winners Jaro in the quarter-finals.
All the results and standings from the group stage can be found on the Veikkausliiga website (in Finnish).
The quarter-finals shape up like this:
TPS vs MyPa, 18:00 on 23/03/2012
FC Honka vs VPS, 17:00 on 21/03/2012
FF Jaro vs FC Inter, 18:00 on 21/03/2012
HJK vs KuPS, 18:00 on 21/03/2012
Look out for the results in a future update on this blog!