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Christian Schäfer - Der Professor

Can the librarian from Dresden revolutionise football?
Started on 3 April 2016 by Justice / First Post
Latest Reply on 25 June 2018 by Justice / Last Post
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ninjaskill, the reputation of the Liigacup is ridiculously low in comparison to other competitions (currently ranked 87th in terms of cup competitions in Europe, fifteen places below the FA Trophy) so I guess the fans weren't too excited about it :(

mgriffin2012, it is better than I expected tbh, JJK are one of two semi-professional teams in the league, so the club is certainly behind in terms of potential wage spend. JJK are currently spending €207k per year on wages, which is a very low figure in comparison to HJK (€1.36M per year), SJK (€852k per year), IFK Mariehamn, KuPS & KTP (all €700k+ per year each), so JJK were certainly expected to struggle.

Jack, I can certainly tell you that we have had some brilliant performances against KuPS so far, as you've seen, and hopefully we can continue our 100% record against them :P
Justice's avatar Group Justice
2 yearsEdited

May 2026


An Overview Of JJK Jyväskylä's Month In Football For May

01/06/2026

Veikkausliiga and Suomen Cup action continued as Christian Schäfer side looked to put more points on the table early on to ensure that relegation would not be a threat later on in the season. JJK fans were in for a treat of a month as games against KuPS and HJK promised memorable encounters. The Veikkausliiga transfer window officially closed on 6th May, so a roundup of JJK's transfers can be found below.

Transfers


Five players were released from the club following the expiration of their contracts. Christian Schäfer could not guarantee much football, if any, for these players, so it make economic sense to release them. The five players left JJK with their reputations intact, and four of the five had since found new clubs to play for. Unfortunately for Aati Riihimäki, he was unable to find a new employed following his release.

Six players joined JJK for €0 as Christian Schäfer set about reshaping the squad. With the exception of Juha Pirinen, the signings were defenders. Tuomas Järvinen was a promising 19 year old defender who became the club's third choice DC. Juha Pirinen, 34, was the oldest of the new signings, and came in to add depth to the left midfield position. Reza Heidari, 30, was a very versatile defensive player. He could fill in at left back, holding midfield, and anywhere on the left wing. Matias Kinnunen, 17, was the youngest of the new signings, but the most talented and he moved straight in to the starting line-up at DC as the club's undisputed best player. Arto Viljanen, 18, was capable of playing anywhere across the defence, but joined the club's 'B' team to gain playing experience. Joonas Rantala, 30, was unfortunate enough to tear his ACL during his first week of training with the club. The DL was set to strengthen the team's defence considerably, but physios confirmed he would miss the entire 2026 season.

Results


2-2 Draw vs FC Inter Turku (A), Veikkausliiga - 03/05/2026 Attendance: 2,230
JJK looked to have sealed all three points in this fixture as goals from Saku Leppänen and Mikael Luostarinen gave JJK a 2-0 lead in the first half. However, Petteri Lehtola scored on either side of half-time to give FC Inter Turku a share of the spoils.
Petter Lehtola (FC Inter Turku) - 8.8/10

5-0 Win vs FF Jaro (H), Veikkausliiga - 07/05/2026 Attendance: 2,130
JJK were back to winning ways four days later as they absolutely hammered FF Jaro at home. Genc Kovaqi scored twice and Saku Leppänen struck to give JJK a resounding 3-0 lead at half-time. Jonne Porkka added to FF Jaro's woes in the second half, before Anselmi Nurmela lobbed the goalkeeper from the halfway line for the second time of the season.
Genc Kovaqi (JJK) - 9.4/10

0-0 Draw vs FC Haka (H), Veikkausliiga - 10/05/2026 Attendance: 2,289
JJK were unable to continue their goal scoring form as FC Haka held them to a goalless draw at home. Neither side created a reasonable opportunity to score, and a draw was certainly deserved.
Olli Jalli (FC Haka) - 7.5/10

2-0 Win vs KuPS (H), Veikkausliiga - 14/05/2026 Attendance: 3,448
KuPS had become sick of playing against their rivals as Christian Schäfer's side were once again victorious, and deservedly too. Tuomas Järvinen scored a powerful header from a corner to break the deadlock, and Aleksis Lehtonen ensured that KuPS would have no reason to celebrate with an excellently-placed finish.
Genc Kovaqi (JJK) - 8.2/10

2-2 (3-1 Penalty) Win vs HJK (H), Suomen Cup Quarter Final - 18/05/2026 Attendance: 985
It was a thrilling encounter as four goals were scored before a penalty shoot-out. Eetu Hämäläinen cancelled out Aleksis Lehtonen's opener in the first half, and Nauzet Padrón gave HJK the lead with fifteen minutes remaining. Aleksis Lehtonen equalised for JJK just minutes later, and the game ground out to extra-time, and then penalties. JJK won comfortably, as they scored all three of their shots, while HJK only converted one of their four.
Mikko Kuningas (HJK) - 9.0/10

1-0 Win vs KTP (A), Veikkausliiga - 24/05/2026 Attendance: 1,897
KTP may have been bottom of the league, but they put up a fight. JJK held strong defensively and got the decisive goal through Aleksis Lehtonen in the second half.
Matias Kinnunen (JJK) - 7.4/10

1-0 Win vs IFK Mariehamn (A), Veikkausliiga - 28/05/2026 Attendance: 1,741
IFK Mariehamn were very much the favourites in this fixture, and they flaunted their authority with some sizzling attacking play. JJK's rearguard held firm, however, but Schäfer's side could not find a way through. That was, of course, until Iiro Järvinen scored a sensational effort from range with less than ten minutes remaining to secure a valuable three points.
Iiro Järvinen (JJK) - 8.7/10

1-1 Draw vs HJK (A), Veikkausliiga - 31/05/2026 Attendance: 4,046
This was a tense fixture as neither side wished to drop points and lose ground in the emerging title race. Eetu Hämäläinen's opener for HJK was cancelled out by a Mikael Luostarinen goal in the first half and the game ground out to a 1-1 draw, in the end.
Eetu Hämäläinen (HJK) - 8.2/10

Player Of The Month


Anselmi Nurmela was JJK's most impressive player in May. The right full-back was in terrific form, and even scored as he helped his side to many impressive defensive performances.

Anselmi Nurmela's Season Stats:

Overview
Appearances: 18
Goals: 2 (817 minutes per goal)
Assists: 2 (817 minutes per assist)
MotM Awards: 1

Attacking Play
Shots On Target Ratio: 66.67% (2/3)
Dribbles Completed: 18 (1 per game)
Key Passes: 40 (2.22 per game)
Cross Completion Ratio: 11.96% (11/92)

Defensive Play
Key Tackles: 4 (0.22 per game)
Tackles Won Ratio: 79.17% (57/72)
Interceptions: 124 (6.89 per game)
Mistakes: 35 (1.94 per game)
Disciplinary Record
Fouls Committed: 17 (0.94 per game)
Fouls Against: 10 (0.56 per game)
Yellow Cards: 3
Red Cards: 0

General Play
Pass Completion Ratio: 74.5% (748/1,004)
Headers Won: 58 (3.22 per game)
Distance Covered: 11.94km per game
Key Moments: 46 (2.56 per game)
Matches Won Ratio: 61.11% (11/18)
Average Rating: 7.34

Assistant Manager's Report
Current Ability:
Potential Ability:

Veikkausliiga


JJK's unbeaten league month brought them to within a point of the top spot. 22 points from the opening 11 games was very impressive indeed and Christian Schäfer was hoping his team could provide more of the same performances throughout the remainder of the season. A third of the way through the league campaign, JJK were sitting 18 points away from the only relegation spot, and their defensive record was to thank.




Suomen Cup


Progress in the Suomen Cup meant JJK would face HIFK Fotboll in the semi final. This fixture would be played in August, while IFK Mariehamn and FC Haka faced each other in the other semi final. Would JJK be able to make it to two consecutive Suomen Cup finals?

June Fixtures


The absence of cup fixtures was certainly a relief to Christian Schäfer, with JJK due to play just six Veikkausliiga games in June. Schäfer was hoping for more defensive resolve in an attempt to shut down opposition as he sought to cement JJK's place as a top team in Finland.



Previous Update: #97 - April 2026
Next Update: #99 - June 2026
Pretty strong month and your league position reflects that keep it up!
Great month mate keep it up and you'll have much more success coming your way!
Justice's avatar Group Justice
2 yearsEdited

June 2026


An Overview Of JJK Jyväskylä's Month In Football For June

01/06/2026

With just Veikkausliiga football to look forward to for the month of June, Christian Schäfer & JJK set out to further strengthen their position away from the single relegation spot, and push for a high-place position in the league. Having more than impressed fans and pundits already, JJK were set to lay down the gauntlet in the month of June.

Results


0-0 Draw vs FC Lahti (A), Veikkausliiga - 07/06/2026 Attendance: 2,121
In what was possibly the most boring game any spectator has ever witnessed, JJK showed their defensive resilience once more as they shut down the hosts. However, their performance lacked attacking prowess, as the scoreline duly showed.
Anselmi Nurmela (JJK) - 7.5/10

2-2 Draw vs FF Jaro (A), Veikkausliiga - 11/06/2026 Attendance: 1,367
If the last game disappointed, this one certainly made up for it. Goals from Genc Kovaqi and Aleksis Lehtonen gave JJK a two-goal cushion early on, but FF Jaro struck back in the second half on two occasions to earn a share of the spoils.
Matias Peltola (FF Jaro) - 8.7/10

1-0 Win vs SJK (H), Veikkausliiga - 14/06/2026 Attendance: 2,280
JJK had their work cut out for them against a formidable SJK side, but held strong throughout the game. A late Aleksis Lehtonen goal gave the home side all three points, but it was an impressive rearguard performance which certainly impressed.
Simon Thurling (JJK) - 8.6/10

2-1 Win vs TPS (H), Veikkausliiga - 21/06/2026 Attendance: 2,164
TPS' Anton Orlov broke the deadlock early on, but JJK were constantly knocking on the door for an equaliser. Aleksis Lehtonen scored for the third game running to level the scoreline, before JJK's Niko Markkula missed from the penalty spot. Genc Kovaqi made amends for his teammate's failure to convert with a powerful headed goal to give JJK all three points.
Aatu Laatikainen (TPS) - 8.3/10

1-0 Win vs HIFK Fotboll (A), Veikkausliiga - 25/06/2026 Attendance: 1,275
Genc Kovaqi's long-range goal early in the second half was the only goal of the game as JJK neutralised HIFK's attacking threat to secure all three points.
Genc Kovaqi (JJK) - 8.1/10

1-0 Win vs FC Haka (A), Veikkausliiga - 28/06/2026 Attendance: 1,673
Niko Markkula was not renowned for his goalscoring ability, but he scored the three-point goal in this game with a tidy finish, following some intricate passing play. JJK might have felt lucky as they were certainly under intense pressure throughout the game, but held out for a priceless victory.
Niko Markkula (JJK) - 7.7/10

Player Of The Month


Topias Tammelin was JJK's top performer in June. The twenty-nine year old was at the heart of JJK's impressive defensive displays, and was certainly a major factor in their impressive defensive record.

Topias Tammelin's Season Stats:

Overview
Appearances: 23
Goals: 0
Assists: 1 (2,076 minutes per assist)
MotM Awards: 1

Attacking Play
Shots On Target Ratio: 66.67% (2/3)
Dribbles Completed: 16 (0.7 per game)
Key Passes: 11 (0.48 per game)
Cross Completion Ratio: 33.33% (1/3)

Defensive Play
Key Tackles: 21 (0.91 per game)
Tackles Won Ratio: 88.29% (98/111)
Interceptions: 272 (11.83 per game)
Mistakes: 45 (1.96 per game)
Disciplinary Record
Fouls Committed: 25 (1.09 per game)
Fouls Against: 7 (0.3 per game)
Yellow Cards: 6
Red Cards: 0

General Play
Pass Completion Ratio: 60.93% (524/860)
Headers Won: 124 (5.39 per game)
Distance Covered: 9.78km per game
Key Moments: 32 (1.39 per game)
Matches Won Ratio: 69.57% (16/23)
Average Rating: 7.21

Assistant Manager's Report
Current Ability:
Potential Ability:

Veikkausliiga


Another unbeaten month put JJK top of the league by two points. It was their defensive record which stood out, having conceded just eight goals in 17 games. With sixteen games remaining, JJK were thirty points clear of relegation, and the fans were certainly confident of avoiding the drop. FC Inter Turku appeared to be JJK's only opposition for the title at the time, but IFK Mariehamn and HJK were lurking, waiting for a slip up from the two front-runners.




July Fixtures


July would bring JJK's first foray in to European football in the Schäfer era, with the club drawing Heart of Midlothian FC of Scotland in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. The Scottish side were very much the favourites, and Schäfer appeared to have it all to do in order to achieve progression to the next round. Tough league fixtures against FC Inter Turku, KuPS and HJK loomed, but they were certainly not the club's focus ahead of the beginning, and hopefully not the end, of their European campaign.



Previous Update: #98 - May 2026
Next Update: #100 - Schäfer: JJK Will Be Competitive In Europe
Top of the league! Hearts will be tough though!
Justice's avatar Group Justice
2 yearsEdited

Schäfer: JJK Will Be Competitive In Europe


JJK Will Travel To The Tynecastle Stadium In Their Europa League Qualifier

01/07/2026

JJK Jyväskylä manager Christian Schäfer spoke to press reporters ahead of his side's trip to Scotland to face Heart of Midlothian FC in the first leg of the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. The German-born manager was optimistic of his side's chances, despite the odds being heavily stacked against them.

Christian, your team kicks off their Europa League qualifying campaign tomorrow. How excited are you to finally get the European campaign underway?

Christian Schäfer: "It is certainly an exciting moment to be involved in European competition. We have been rewarded with the privilege of playing European football for our efforts of last season in the Suomen Cup, and we are all very excited to compete in one of Europe's most prestigious competitions."

JJK have been given a very tough fixture against Heart of Midlothian. How do you rate your side's chances of progressing?

Christian Schäfer: "Everybody knows of the challenges of European football. The teams involved in this competition are some of the best in their country. We know of the quality of Heart of Midlothian, who are a very strong professional team with some fantastic players. They have the former Benfica player João Teixeira in the heart of their midfield, and a number of quality strikers who can score goals. We have to be wary of the threat which they pose, and look to neutralise their attacking play.

That being said, every team in this competition deserve their place here, and we are no different. Yes, we are a semi-professional team playing against some of Europe's bigger clubs, but we deserve to be here as much as anybody else. At the end of the day, it is still a game of eleven versus eleven on the pitch, and nothing has changed in terms of how the game is played. Of course we will have to adapt how we play, but we do this every week in domestic competition too. Hearts will provide stern opposition, but we will certainly be prepared for the challenge."


JJK will surely benefit from the financial rewards of participating in the Europa League. How will the money earned affect the future of the football club?

Christian Schäfer: "Of course it is fantastic for the football club to be earning extra money through this competition, and the future of the club will only benefit from being involved in Europe. We have the objective of becoming a professional club in the future and in order to reach this status, we must first develop a strong financial structure which the club can survive with over a long period of time. The more time we spend playing European football, the stronger the club becomes financially."

European football hasn't come too often to JJK. How big an occasion is this for your players, and how will they cope?

Christian Schäfer: "Of course it is fantastic for any player in world football to be involved in this competition, whether you are playing for JJK or for Real Madrid or Barcelona. As I said before, it is one of the most prestigious competitions in Europe, and one which we are all very excited to be a part of.

I think the players will do themselves proud. The Europa League will give us a step up in opposition quality from the Veikkausliiga, but the players have already dealt very well with playing against increasingly tougher opposition in the last year. We achieved promoted to the Veikkausliiga just last season, but we already look capable of challenging for the title this year. Our European challenge will be tough, but one we look forward to and we will look to be competitive."


How important will your experience in European football with Dynamo Dresden and Real Madrid prove to be?

Christian Schäfer: "I don't think my history in European football is so important. JJK is a very different club in a very different situation with very different objectives, and so I cannot compare my challenges here with my previous campaigns in Europe. This is a new experience for me and one I will look forward to. We might not be the favourites, but we will push ourselves to the absolute limit to battle for progression to the next round."



Previous Update: #99 - June 2026
Next Update: #101 - Away Goals See JJK Progress Past Hearts
Great in depth interview man! Your experience in the competition will surely help though and I can feel a positive result coming
Great interview and yet another great update!
Justice's avatar Group Justice
2 yearsEdited

Away Goals See JJK Progress Past Hearts


JJK Held Hearts To A Nil-Nil Draw In Finland As They Progressed On Away Goals

09/07/2026

They may have been written off by the media before the competition had even begun, but JJK Jyväskylä stunned their critics with a resounding away goals victory over Scottish side Heart of Midlothian in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. Goals from Genc Kovaqi and Aleksis Lehtonen were enough to secure a 2-2 draw in Edinburgh, and Christian Schäfer's outfit did enough to deny any goals in the return leg in Finland.

Results


2-2 Draw vs Hearts (A), Europa League 1st Qual Rnd - 02/07/2026 Attendance: 16,726
Heart of Midlothian may have had home advantage and a superior line-up, on paper, on their side, but it was JJK who struck first through Genc Kovaqi. Aleksis Lehtonen wriggled his way in to the box before teeing up his strike partner to break the deadlock before two minutes had even been played. The latter added his name to the score sheet later on in the first half when he got on the end of Mikael Luostarinen's deep cross to double JJK's lead. Célestin Djim scored two powerful finishes just before half-time to level the score on the day, but the home side failed to break through JJK's resilient defence in the second half as Christian Schäfer's team left Scotland with a draw and two away goals.
Célestin Djim (Heart of Midlothian) - 8.8/10

0-0 Draw vs Hearts (H), Europa League 1st Qual Rnd - 09/07/2026 Attendance: 2,100
Seated attendance capacity restricted the number of supporters at the game to a mere 2,100, although no goals were missed as JJK set out, and achieved, a complete shut down of the game. The Finnish side conceded no clear cut chances to a frustrated opposition, and the game, and round, ended with JJK advancing on away goals.
Joona Itkonen (JJK) - 8.0/10

JJK Jyväskylä News


While gate receipts from the highly-anticipated Europa League fixture brought in a lot of much-needed money for JJK, it was the prize money for appearing in the first qualifying round of the Europa League which gave the club a proper boost. Having secured passage to the second qualifying round, JJK were set to receive even more prize money, and almost certainly securing the financial security of the club for the next few years.

Second Qualifying Round Fixtures


Having overcome a monumental task of defeating Heart of Midlothian in the first qualifying round, JJK Jyväskylä were handed an even more difficult tie against HNK Rijeka of Croatia. JJK's opposition were runners-up in the Croatian top division last season, and boasted Nigerian international striker Theophilus Solomon, as well as Croatia stars Ante Rebic and Marc Brasnic. The tie certainly seemed to spell the end of JJK's European adventure.

Christian Schäfer:
"The players performed absolutely terrifically to overcome Heart of Midlothian. We showed great courage to attack in the first leg, and we were duly rewarded with two important away goals. In the second leg, we knew we had to remain secure and prevent them from scoring, and that is exactly what we did. I am very proud of the players for rising to the occasion, and of the fans for producing tremendous support.

We face an even bigger club next. HNK are one of Croatia's top teams, and they certainly have some fantastic international footballers. We will not be shy in our approach to this tie, and we will look to put them to the sword, as we did to Hearts. Hopefully we can play as well as we know we can and produce some more fantastic moments for the supporters to cherish."




Previous Update: #100 - Schäfer: JJK Will Be Competitive In Europe
Next Update: #102 - USA Crowned World Champions After Thriller
Well done in qualifying mate! Rijeka are there for the taking ;)
Justice's avatar Group Justice
2 yearsEdited

USA Crowned World Champions After Thriller


USA Claimed The World Cup For The First Time Following Thrilling Final In Mexico

12/07/2026

Often considered the entertainers, but never the victors, of international football, it was time for the USA to have the last laugh as they fought back from a two goal deficit to defeat England in the final of the FIFA World Cup. England were among the favourites to win the competition in Mexico, but USA proved too determined and too strong to overcome in the competition's twenty-third final.

USA were drawn in to a rather competitive group alongside then-holders Spain, high-flying Ireland and Iraq. The Americans were expected to battle for second place, with Spain the clear favourites to progress, and the two nations faced each other in the opening game of their group. Manchester City striker José Ramón García opened the scoring for Spain in the second half, but USA fought back and a late Brooks Lennon goal salvaged a valuable point.

Ireland were expected to provide the biggest threat to USA's hopes of a second place finish, but the Americans were quick to take the lead as Devante Parker found the back of the net within three minutes. Bobby Burpo added a second for USA just five minutes later, but Ireland showed great resilience and character to bounce back. Patsy Moroney's header halved the deficit half way through the first half, and Frank Mulhern's spectacular overhead kick leveled the game on the half-hour mark.

USA required victory against Iran to ensure passage to the next round, but they struggled to cope with their opponents' counter-press. Bobby Burpo was once again on the score sheet as his back heel was deflected in to give his side all three points, and helped claim a place in the top two of the group.


USA Were Unbeaten In Their World Cup Group As They Finished Second

Among the Last Sixteen ties, there were some exciting fixtures as England faced France and Germany faced Spain. For USA, they had a tough task ahead of them as they were drawn against Argentina, who had previously won the competition on two occasions. Argentina took the lead halfway through the first half courtesy of a Franco López penalty, but Bobby Burpo struck back just before half-time. USA had their own penalty in the second half, and Devante Parker converted it to seal a historic victory over Argentina.

Up next for USA was Belgium, and many Americans feared that Romelu Lukaku and Adnan Januzaj would prove to be too much to handle in the quarter finals. This was not to be, however, as USA were in complete control of the entire game, and a goal from Bobby Burpo either side of half-time sealed passage to the semi finals.

While England faced, and comfortably defeated, Spain in the other semi final, USA were pitted against Holland. Holland were huge favourites to win, but USA showed great team spirit, and took the lead through Matthew Pearson in the first half. The striker added a second with twenty minutes remaining and despite Holland's best efforts, they could only manage to score once before full-time. Regilio Boldewijn's goal proved no more than consolation as USA secured a spot in the final.


USA Overcame Significant Obstacles On Their Route To The Final

The World Cup final was always a highly anticipated occasion. With England facing USA, the whole of the world was eagerly watching. USA, as always, were the underdogs heading in the final, but they were hoping that Bobby Burpo and Matthew Pearson could lead them to glory.

England dominated the opening stages of the game, but USA goalkeeper Roberto Castro produced a number of high-profile saves to deny them a goal. However, he could not stop Gareth Alexander from scoring after twenty minutes. Raheem Sterling weaved his way in to the USA penalty box, but his eventual shot cannoned off two USA defenders. The ball fell kindly for Alexander, who pounced to give his country an early lead in the final.

Fifteen minutes later, and Gareth Alexander had scored again. Steven Forde drifted to the right wing where he found space. He teased Matt Miazga, who had closed him down, before playing a deep cross which found the head of Gareth Alexander, before being lofted in to the back of USA's net. England were in the ascendancy and looked like running away with the game.

If ever there was a man who epitomised the fighting spirit of USA, it was Bobby Burpo. With minutes to go before half-time, the American striker linked up with Matthew Pearson on the edge of the England penalty area, with the latter teeing up a shot for Burpo, who halved the deficit with a thunderous effort. It was game on once more.


Fenerbahçe Midfielder Gedion Zelalem Captained USA To Their First Ever World Cup Title

USA brought the game to England in the second half, and both teams fought desperately to secure a foot-hold in the game. Unfortunately for USA, Wil Black was dismissed in the fifty-seventh minute for a second bookable offence, giving England the numerical advantage on the pitch. Leading by a goal and with a man advantage, England were content with holding on to possession of the ball, and rarely pressed forward in search of a third.

USA threw everybody forward, and their never-say-die attitude paid off. With twelve minutes remaining, Cameron Carter-Vickers charged forward from the half-way line with the ball. He rolled a pass to Bobby Burpo who spun around Louis Reed with a sharp feint before playing a ball in to the feet of strike-partner Matthew Pearson. Twenty yards out with his back to goal, Pearson left John Stones and Brendan Galloway in a heap with a sharp spin, before picking out the far corner with a terrific effort. USA were breathing fire in to the game, and it was all to play for once more!

England were shell-shocked. Having been two goals to the good, their players did not imagine any chance of slipping up. In truth, the English players performed well throughout the game, but the Americans showed guile and hunger to fight back, and they were not done with two goals. With ten minutes to go, Matthew Pearson ran at England's defence, causing disarray. He teased one way before playing the ball another, in to the path of Bobby Burpo who was unmarked in the box. America's hero of the tournament poked the ball first-time beyond the helpless Jack Butland to win the World Cup for USA with minutes to go.

England were beat, and they knew it. They mustered a couple more attacks, but USA's Roberto Castro stood firm in goals to deny any attempt to score. The referee blew the whistle after ninety-three minutes, and USA were crowned World Cup champions. It was a proud day for the nation, and manager DaMarcus Beasley gained many plaudits for this achievement. It was certainly a tournament to remember for Team USA.






Previous Update: #101 - Away Goals See JJK Progress Past Hearts
Next Update: #103 - JJK Victorious In Extra Time Thriller
Okay...wow!!
Justice's avatar Group Justice
2 yearsEdited

JJK Victorious In Extra Time Thriller


JJK Scored Twice In Extra Time In The Second Leg To Defeat HNK Rijeka

23/07/2026

JJK Jyväskylä once again upset the odds by defeating Croatian league runners-up HNK Rijeka 3-2 on aggregate to progress to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. Christian Schäfer's side impressively earned a 1-0 win in the first leg, in Croatia, but conceded a goal to allow extra time in the return leg in Finland. A hectic extra-time period saw JJK take the lead, on aggregate, before HNK pounced back with a goal that would have seen the Croatian side progress on away goals. However, JJK were not to be beaten as a last minute goal gave the Finnish side the aggregate victory.

Results


1-0 Win vs HNK Rijeka (A), Europa League 2nd Qual Rnd - 16/07/2026 Attendance: 5,590
It was a game of true defensive resilience for JJK. HNK put the pressure on from the very first minute, and pressed JJK back in to their own box for the majority of the game. Ante Rebic ran the show for the home team as he orchestrated every single attack, but a brave JJK defence held firm. Of HNK's 22 shots, only 4 of them reached the target, and they were expertly saved by goalkeeper Tatu Österlund. JJK ground down the time and late on in the second half, they were the team celebrating a goal. HNK had tired and their players grew frustrated as JJK held on to the ball cautiously and intelligently.

Simon Thurling lead a rare foray forward for the Finnish side, and Anselmi Nurmela's cross was met by the head of lone striker Aleksis Lehtonen, resulting in the ball nestling in the back of HNK's net. JJK's players celebrated ecstatically and showed great composure to see out the rest of the game, earning a valuable away goal without conceding any.

Anselmi Nurmela (JJK) - 8.4/10

2-2 Draw AET vs HNK Rijeka (H), Europa League 2nd Qual Rnd - 23/07/2026 Attendance: 2,100
JJK knew to expect a high amount of pressure from the visitors in this tie, and the Croatians put JJK's defence to the test. For the most part, JJK held firm, and frustrated their opponents. However, just as JJK looked to be coasting to the next round, HNK struck back. From a free-kick, Dario Canadjija evaded his marked before unleashing the most spectacular of overhead kicks to level the game, sending it to extra time.

The game blew up in extra time as both sides desperately battled to score the decisive goal, and JJK found the back of the net as Aleksis Lehtonen poked home Mikael Luostarinen's pinpoint cross, sending JJK's fans in to ecstasy. Despite JJK's best attempts, however, HNK struck back once more. Dario Canadjija, the scorer of the overhead kick, pounced on a rebound in the box, following another clever set-piece routine, to score once more. The goal looked set to send HNK through on away goals, ending JJK's dream.

JJK fought desperately to regain their aggregate lead in the game, but HNK held firm. With one last throw of the dice, JJK threw every man forward on a counter attack following an unsuccessful HNK free-kick. Aleksis Lehtonen lead the charge forward and he fed the ball to the onrushing Reza Heidari, who in turn drilled the ball across the face of the goal. With just over twenty second remaining on the clock, Simon Thurling made a heroic charge towards the back post and held off two HNK defenders to pounce on the cross, and deliver the killing blow. JJK had scored again, and the fans were in absolute delirium! Euphoria had hit Harjun Stadion, as JJK secured the greatest of all comebacks in Finnish football history.

Dario Canadjija (HNK Rijeka) - 9.2/10

JJK Jyväskylä News


As in the previous round, JJK received a huge windfall from prize money earned for appearing in the second round of the qualifiers. The thrilling victory was sure to see an increase in supporters of the football club, and JJK could expect an even greater following in the third round of qualifying.

Third Qualifying Round Fixtures


Progression to the next round brought no easier opposition for JJK, as they were pitted against Bundesliga giants VfL Wolfsburg. While JJK did enough to overcome the odds against Heart of Midlothian and HNK Rijeka, many expected the German giants to be just too much for the Finnish outfit. Christian Schäfer interview to follow.



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Just keeps getting tougher for you man! Best of luck against Wolfsburg, won't be easy at all!

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