The QEII Stadium proudly hosted the two final matches of the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup and, although there were no goals in open play, both matches were very keenly contested. By the time the Final kicked off, there were an estimated 2,500 people in the ground, so the attendance record was broken for the second time in a week.
3rd/4th place play-off: Padania 0-0 Szekely Land (Padania win 5-4 on penalties)
The first real opportunity of the game fell to Padania in the 11th minute, Giacomo Innocenti’s cross found the head of Danny Magne, but Magne didn’t get a strong enough connection, and he tamely headed wide for a goal-kick. A minute later, Szekely Land’s Laszlo Szocs found himself in-behind the Padania defence and one on one with the keeper but his shot flew high and wide.
Clear cut chances were few and far between for both sides in the opening 45 minutes. Ten minutes before the break another Inocenti’s effort from close range was well saved by Nagy Barna in the Szekely Land goal, to keep the game level. For Szekely Land, Szilard Magyari couldn’t keep his shot on target just before half-time, after Padania’s defence failed to clear.
In the 57th minute Innocenti was once again in the thick of the action, but he shot wide. With just 15 minutes to play, both sides stepped up their search for a goal. Szekely Land’s Laszlo Szocs went on a strong run down the left side, before cutting in onto his right foot but dragging his subsequent effort wide.
Riccardio Ravasi for Padania had his shot at the near post saved with seven minutes left, as both sides cancelled each other out and the game went straight to penalties.
Both sides scored their first two spot-kicks. Padania missed their third, but Szekely Land missed their final two spot-kicks. Marco Garavelli scored the winning penalty for Padania, as they secured a 3rd place finish in the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup.
FINAL: Northern Cyprus 0-0 Karpatalya (Karpatalya win 3-2 on penalties)
After the tight 1-1 draw between the sides at the group stage, the opening half hour saw few clear-cut chances for either side.
A Karpatalya corner in the 34th minute almost caused problems for Northern Cyprus, however they were able to clear, as Karpatalya started to mount some momentum. In the 37th minute Alex Svedjuk’s long-range effort for Karpatalya sailed wide, and defences were well on top in the first period.
After the break there were few signs that the stalemate would be broken. In the 53rd minute Svedjuk’s effort for Karpatalya was held by Hasan Piro in the Northern Cyprus goal and, moments later, a volley from distance by the same player sailed over.
Northern Cyprus certainly had their moments in the closing stages; Tansel Osman’s shot went high and wide and then, with ten minutes to play, Arif Uysal had a great chance to win it for them, but his header from inside the box went wide. The Cypriots had left it too later, and would go on to rue their missed chances as Mark Clattenburg blew the final whistle and the second match of the day also went to a shoot-out.
Two misses by Billy Mehmet and Yasin Kurt gave Karpatalya the advantage. But then Karpatalya hit the post and another was missed before Dmitrii Maskaev scored for Karpatalya to make it 3-2. At the death. Halil Turnan’s penalty was saved by Bela Fejer, thus crowning Karpatalya champions.
- Aaron Patel
Updated 10:51 - 10 Jun 2018 by Ken Brazier