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Ventspils victorious in Latvian Cup final

FK Ventspils have lifted the Latvian Cup for the fifth time after seeing off SK Liepājas Metalurgs 3-1 in the final thanks to a pair of Ahmed Abdultaofik goals at Skonto Stadium in Riga.

Ventspils bask in the glory of their fifth Latvian Cup triumph
Ventspils bask in the glory of their fifth Latvian Cup triumph ©Roman Koksharov

FK Ventspils are celebrating their fifth Latvian Cup triumph after dispatching SK Liepājas Metalurgs 3-1 in the final on a day promoted as Football Day across the country.

Metalurgs deployed a cautious approach from the start at Skonto Stadium in Riga, with league leaders Ventspils putting together the most threatening attacks early on. Indeed, both Minori Sato and Ahmed Abdultaofik tried their luck with shots from distance, forcing Pāvels Šteinbors to impress in the Metalurgs goal.

The goalkeeper could only hold out for so long, however, and with 35 minutes gone, Oļegs Laizāns fired low into the corner of the net from a free-kick. Abdultaofik then made it 2-0 with a deft lob close to half-time, requiring Vladimirs Osipovs' charges to raise the tempo after the break.

Vitalijus Kavaliauskas tested Ventspils' No1 Aleksandrs Vlasovs with a header, but the Metalurgs response wilted after club captain Tomas Tamošauskas was dismissed midway through the second period. Abdultaofik promptly increased the deficit on 71 minutes following fine approach play from Sato before their opponents finally had something to cheer when Antons Jemeļins converted from the penalty spot.

Ventspils were not to be denied, though, and went on to collect a first trophy in Latvia for their coach Sergei Podpaly. "These are fantastic emotions," said the Russian tactician. "I'm happy for my players as some of them have never won major trophies before. I'd like to win the Russian Cup some day, but at the moment I'm happy to have won the Latvian Cup with Ventspils."

His counterpart Osipovs was quick to concede that the better team had prevailed. "Ventspils deserved to win," he explained. "I think they're the best team in Latvia at the moment in a number of ways. We tried everything we could and showed our desire when down to ten men, but it was always going to be a miracle to come back after conceding three goals."