May 21, 2012
AUCKLAND – Winston Reid and his West Ham team mates were celebrating a return to the English Premiership after a dramatic 2-1 win over Blackpool in the Championship Playoff final, while Rebecca Smith can look forward to Champions League football after securing a top two finish in the Frauen Bundesliga.
Like he had done all season Reid started in the heart of the West Ham defence, and played every minute of a fixture that has been dubbed ‘the richest game in football given the £90M of extra revenue associated from being in the Premiership.
In front of a 78,523 strong crowd, Carlton Cole put the East Londoners ahead in the 35th minute, but Thomas Ince got on the end of a raking ball in behind the Hammers back line to square the ledger three into the second half.
With extra time looming Ricardo Vaz Té struck an 88th minute winner to spark the celebrations for West Ham, who join fellow promoted sides Reading and Southampton in the top flight next season.
Reid will miss the All Whites two USA-based internationals against El Salvador and Honduras and will join his international team mates in the Solomon Islands for the Oceania Nations Cup.
There was also joy for Football Ferns skipper Rebecca Smith as Wolfsburg beat Ria Percival’s Frankfurt 1-0 with a second half penalty to book their place in next season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League and set up some final day drama next weekend to decide overall Bundesliga honours.
The result ended Frankfurt’s slim hopes of returning to the Champions League and capped a miserable week where they lost two cup finals including this season’s Champions League final against Lyon.
Wolfsburg are just one point behind leaders Turbine Potsdam and need to better their points haul in the final round of matches next Tuesday morning (NZT). Wolfsburg are away to Essen-Schönebeck while Potsdam, who beat third placed Duisburg 2-0 away from home this morning, are home to bottom of the table Lokomotive Leipzig next week.
Leipzig are in a three way battle to avoid relegation with Anna Green and her team mates keeping their hopes alive with a 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich. With Bayer Leverkusen edging Amber Hearn’s USV Jena 3-2, only one of Leipzig (13 points), Leverkusen (14) and Jena (15) will avoid the drop next weekend.
In other German league action Sarah Gregorius was on the score sheet for the second week running, netting Bad Neuenahr’s first goal in a 4-0 rout of Hamburg.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s win in Sunday’s UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich was felt in North, as well as West London with the Blues now claiming England’s fourth berth in next season’s competition instead of Tottenham who finished fourth in the league.
That means Ryan Nelsen, if he signs on for another season at Spurs, will compete in the Europa League instead.
In Sweden, Kirsty Yallop was on the score sheet as Vittsjö beat Djurgården 4-1 to regain a three-way share of the league lead with previous outright leaders Malmo, featuring Ali Riley, losing 2-0 to AIK.
Also in Scandinavia, Kris Bright’s Bryne won 1-0 away at Hødd with Bright coming on as a 65th minute sub.
In Japan, Michael Fitzgerald enjoyed a 1-0 win over former club Zweigen Kanazawa as V-Varen Nagasaki moved to second place in the Japanese Football League, while across in China, Chris Killen and Chongqing lost 1-0 away to Tianjin Songjiang to stay in seventh place.
Killen will join up with the All Whites squad in the Solomon Islands in time for the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins with the OFC Nations Cup opener against Fiji on June 2.