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June 8, 2019

Sapmi 3-2 Szekely Land

Image credit: Karo Sahakyan

Sapmi secured 7th place in the CONIFA European Football Cup with a 3-2 victory over Szekely Land, their first win of the competition.

Two teams who have endured disappointing campaigns brought them to a close at the Askeran City Stadium with an entertaining game. Despite failing to register a win in the group stages, both sides have contributed to some brilliant matches in Artsakh, which will live long in the memory.

The early exchanges were uneventful, but Sapmi grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck after 17 minutes, as Benjamin Zahrisson found space in the box and fired in low at the keeper’s near post. They got another moments later when Samuli Latila raced onto a loose ball after the Szekely Land defence had failed to clear.

Sapmi were in pole position, but an agonising goalkeeping error brought Szekely Land back into the match. Norbert Lazar’s dangerous free kick delivery was flicked on by Rajmond Balint, and Anton Sarri couldn’t hold on as it rolled over the line.

The pressure continued to come from Szekely Land, and the chance for the equaliser arose when Bojond Kovacs was brought down in the corner of the box. Akos Kovacs showed held his nerve from 12 yards as he slotted past Sarri into the bottom right corner.

A key turning point came on the hour mark, as Szekely Land’s Ghinea Hunor was shown a red card for a second bookable offence. Szekely still posed a threat going forward though, with Norbert Benko-Biro blasting a shot off the underside of the crossbar.

Sapmi were able to find more space going forward, and eventually found the winning goal. A corner was pulled back to Latila, whose shot was deflected in for his second of the game. They had to weather the storm of a late green card for Mika Holmen Haetta, and after a Barna Vekas strike which Sarri had to tip over, they just about held on to secure 7th place.

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By Robin Toal

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