Results
 

Beeston Operation Leeds (Eng)

1

V

2

JNJ Turkey (Tur)

JNJ Russia (Rus)

1

v

1*

JNJ High Wycombe (Eng)

* JNJ High Wycombe (Eng) win 2-1 on penalties.

 

We were at the 2018 JNJ Euro Tournament Cup Semi-Final stage and from 14 teams who started the day we were down to the final 4. In a Russian World Cup Summer, JNJ Russia were appearing in the latter stages along with Turkey and two teams from England.

 

Up first was Beeston Operation Leeds versus JNJ Turkey and what a game this promised to be. We had last year's Runners-Up and the most improved team in the event. JNJ Turkey were looking to become only the third team in the event to reach back-to-back Cup Finals after JNJ High Wycombe appeared in 3 successive finals (2012-4) and JNJ Russia in 2015 & 2016.

 

Beeston Operation Leeds were looking to keep the dream alive and they were currently riding a crest of a wave. With 5 wins, 1 draw and just 1 defeat so far today they were flying. It got even better for the team from Leeds when they took an early lead Aidan Gallagher was on target for the fifth time today. He was making his first European tour appearance in this event and he was to finish as team top scorer. It was a great debut.

 

JNJ Turkey had an identical record before the game (5 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat) and they were level before half-time. Serkan Kardesler scored his third of the tournament to make it 1-1.

 

In last year's semi-final, JNJ Turkey were involved in a 9 goal thriller which they edged 5-4. This game didn't have the same number of goals but it did have the same level of entertainment and intrigue. Beeston Operation Leeds matched their opponents and the game could have gone either way. A penalty shoot-out was also looking a distinct possibility. However, the game was to be won in normal time. Edip Efe, 6 goals already today, would increase his tally to 7. His second half strike would prove to be the winner.

 

JNJ Turkey were through to the Cup Final. Beeston Operation Leeds were out but could be hugely proud of their efforts today. A great performance.

 
 
 

So, who would take their place in the Final from the second Semi-Final? The two teams set to do battle were JNJ Russia and JNJ High Wycombe.

 

This vintage rivalry would be renewed for the 11th time. This fixture had been played in the JNJ Euro Soccer Tournament more than any other pairing of teams. It was the second time today they would have played with JNJ Russia taking the spoils 2-1 which was JNJ High Wycombe's only defeat so far and the only game in which they had conceded. JNJ Russia had history on their side with 6 wins in the previous 10 meetings.

 

The two teams played out a goal-less first half but there was notable action to come in the second half. Paul Lynch struck from the penalty spot to go 1-0 up and then they hit the bar which would have given JNJ Russia a mountain to climb. As it was, the Russian team were still very much in it. Andrey Sheremetyev claimed a late equalizer with a powerful right foot strike which Will Frempong got a hand to but couldn't quite keep it out. It meant this semi-final would need penalties to decide who would reach the Cup Final.

 

JNJ Russia's Alexander Rimskiy would have the honour of going first. He had 3 goals in today's tournament but was unable to convert from 8 yards out. He went for power and down the middle of the goal but goalkeeper Will Frempong put up a strong right arm to keep it out. It was advantage JNJ High Wycombe.

 

The English team's first penalty taker was Paul Lynch who converted a penalty in normal time. Anton Smirnov dived to his right but Paul Lynch went the other way and it was 1-0 to High Wycombe. The pressure was now on JNJ Russia as Sergey Stupin stepped forward. He went to the goalkeeper's bottom right and equalized at 1-1.   

 

Nigel Mpofu was the second penalty taker for JNJ High Wycombe. He struck it low towards the bottom right hand corner but Anton Smirnov went the right way and pushed the ball to safety. The score remained 1-1 with both teams now having taken 2 penalties. Denis Dezhin would be charged with trying to put JNJ Russia in the lead. His penalty went down the middle but with not enough pace. As Frempong went to his left he was able to stick out a right boot and make the save.

 

All eyes were now on Tom Court. He went for power as he struck it hard and low. Anton Smirnov stayed on his line and saw the ball sail between his legs as he couldn't adjust his feet in time. The ball crashed into the back of the net and JNJ High Wycombe were through.

 

The tournament was now over for JNJ Russia and that dream of a third title would have to be put on ice until next year. Although I'm sure they were disappointed they should be proud of their efforts today.

 
 
 
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