MICHAEL HADLEY - Friday, July 6, 2012
The Americans competing in the Europa League First Qualifying Round had mixed results on Thursday evening with the highlight being Etchu Tabe and KuPs win over Llanelli
Bohemians FC 0-0 Thor Akureyri
In Ireland, Giuseppe Funicello and Thor Akureyri were able to fend off their Bohemian FC opponents for the full 90 minutes.
Thor were able to take advantage of Bohemian's lack of playing time together as they nearly thrust out to the early lead, mainly using the right flank to attack. But after a lack of finesse in the attacking third, it was the Bohs who nearly went ahead. Dwayne Wilson had a few opportunities to toe-poke a corner kick into the net, but Icelandic bodies were too plentiful.
In the second half, Bohemians again came out with an attacking mind while Thor were content with a 0-0 draw. Despite some tactical second half subs from the home side, the keep-away game Thor played was plenty to end in a draw.
Funicello went the full 90 minutes for Thor, playing a key role in the impressive draw.
Thor will look to steal the home leg from Bohemians in Iceland on 12 July. They will be kicking off in the second latest match of the day in an 8:30 p.m. Central European Time start.
JJK 2-0 Stabaek
In Finland, Stabaek dug themselves a cavern to climb out of with Ricardo Clark providing a key giveaway to dash his team's hopes of a draw.
Early in the match, JJK were nearly able to put two separate chances in while Stabaek seemed incapable of clearing the halfway line. In the 16th minute, Tamas Gruborovics rocked a grounded cross from 19 yards out, baffling 19 year old Ivory Coast goalkeeper Mande Sayouba to put JJK ahead.
Stabaek seemed determined, peppering Janne Korhonen with repeated attempts from distance. The Fin was up to the task, however, snatching passes from mid air and even booting a ball from the top of his own goal box to preserve his shutout.
With the visitors feeling desperate for a road equalizer, Clark made an ill-advised pass in the JJK end, allowing the home squad to push forward. Babatunde Wusu, JJK's Nigerian striker, made a world class run between the Stabaek back line, slotting home a shot beyond Sayouba's sprawling frame, setting the final score in the 66th minute.
Stabaek's coach, Petter Belsvik, would eventually sub Clark off in the 79th minute, though his compatriot Sean Cunningham finished the match. Clark, surprisingly, didn't put up a yellow.
The return leg will be next Thursday 12 July at 7:00 p.m. CET.
KuPS 2-1 Llanelli
KuPS and Echtu Tabe used a quick start to emerge as the only victorious Yank-laden team in their first Europa League leg.
The home team converted a sixth minute penalty kick after Llanelli's Chris Venables brought down Sander Puri illegally in the box. No card was shown, and Llanelli coach Andy Legg would eventually call it "dodgy," but the damage was done when Markus Joenmaki converted and put KuPS up 1-0.
The Estonian Ats Purje doubled the lead with the game-winner just 13 minutes later, taking a cross from Chris James and burying it.
First half scoring would continue into stoppage time of the first half when Jason Bowen corralled a pass from Luke Bowen and pushed it beyond a leaping Mika Hilander.
Neither side scored in the second half, leaving the final tally at 2-1 in favor of KuPS. Tabe played the entire match, providing help in the back line to preserve the victory.
Llanelli will host KuPS on Thursday 12 July at 7:30 p.m. CET