1st round of Veikkausliiga

Veikkausliiga started last Sunday with six games and the first round was concluded on Monday as HJK paid a visit to IFK Mariehamn. The results were as follows.

FC InterRoPS 3-1, highlights 1, 2
VPSFC Haka 0-0, highlights
TamUFF Jaro 0-0, highlights
FC KooTeePeeFC Lahti 0-1, highlights
KuPSTPS 0-3, highlights
FC HonkaMyPa 2-0, highlights
IFK MariehamnHJK 0-2, highlights

All title candidates stood their ground with the exception of TamU, who had to settle with a goalless draw against Jaro, who are tipped for a mid-table finish. HJK, TPS and Honka got a two-point lead after the very first round of games and TamU must catch a win next Sunday if they do not want to fall behind during the early stages of the season. They will be favourites to win because they will travel to Rovaniemi to play newly-promoted RoPS, but an inspired RoPS performance against Inter ensured that TamU will not have an easy game coming up. RoPS actually led the game at the 80 minute mark, but seemed to grow tired and stupid mistakes by their defence cost them three goals in the closing stages.

TPS put their game against KuPS in Kuopio beyond all doubt in 35 minutes with Aristides Pertot, Chris Cleaver and Mikko Paatelainen scoring. Head coach Martti Kuusela said the first-half performance was TPS at their best, but it must be kept in mind that a team favoured for the title played one of the relegation candidates. The importance of the next three games cannot be exaggerated, because they will be essential in the team’s title bid. They will face FC Inter in Sunday’s local derby, followed by a trip to Tampere on Thursday the 8th and a crucial home fixture against Honka on the 12th. Most probably they need at least two wins of the following three games.

HJK won a hard victory over IFK Mariehamn, although IFK Mariehamn had all chances of at least drawing the game. With the exception of that and MyPa losing to Honka, teams expected to occupy the mid-table spots come the end of the season kept their nerve. VPS and Haka drew 0-0 despite the attacking performance put on by both sides, FC Lahti won top relegation candidates KooTeePee 1-0 and FF Jaro, as mentioned, got more than expected against TamU.

The highlight of the second round will undoubtedly be the Turku derby between TPS and Inter on Sunday. Inter were not too good against RoPS and they will need to improve considerably. Additionally, they lost Diego Corpache to injury as he was substituted in the first half. However, a derby is always a derby and given their awful performance in the Liigacup final between the sides, TPS are by no means favorites.

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