#WFC2018 Final: KARPATALYA 0-0 NORTHERN CYPRUS
(Karpatalya win 3-2 on penalties)

Karpatalya have won the 2018 CONIFA Paddy Power World Football Cup on penalties after a cagey goalless draw with Northern Cyprus, who will rue several fantastic missed opportunities.

As you’d expect from a major final, the opening stages were reserved and cagey. The first half was characterised by plenty of clumsy challenges – particularly from Northern Cyprus – but Mark Clattenburg ran a tight ship, and never produced a card.

Karpatalya had the best of the first period, but it was 10 minutes before Milan Laszik produced the first proper chance, glancing a powerful header narrowly wide.

Afterwards, the momentum seemed to swing towards Northern Cyprus. Their most lively player was Yasin Kurt, a pacy winger who would cut in from the right and thread incisive balls through to Tansel Ekingen. Ekingen, though, was too often outmuscled by the resolute Karpatalyan defence.

Kurt was a bigger threat, and it took Alex Svedjuk’s best efforts to deny him on one of his marauding runs into the box.

Then it was Karpatalya’s turn to attack. A Gergely Gyurki corner was barely scrambled away by the defence, and Istvan Sandor’s long-distance effort shaved the crossbar – the best chance of the half.

It was a nervous start to the second half; Northern Cyprus were unable to make the most of their strength and robustness, while Karpatalya were reduced to more long-range efforts from Sandor.

It wasn’t until the final minutes that Northern Cyprus started piling on the pressure. A sudden burst of energy was too much for the tiring Karpatalyans; Arif Uysal and Gajri Kiral surged through the defence to create a slew of chances.

Billy Mehmet, latching on to a cross from Unal Kaya, slammed a shot into the post – the best chance of the match – while Halil Turan put a header inches wide after good creative work. Uysal even called for a penalty after falling in the box, but Mark Clattenburg wasn’t interested.

A final corner amounted to nothing, and the final would have to be decided by penalties. Three fantastic saves from Bela Fejer gave Karpatalya the advantage, leaving Alex Svedjuk to bury the winner.

Not even the pouring rain could stop the Karpatalya celebrations, and the fans, whose colourful flares had lent the match a unique atmosphere, were delighted.