CONIFA 2018: Karpatalya reach World Football Cup final after beating Szekely Land

Ferenc Barta’s injury-time goal sealed Karpatalya’s passage into the Paddy Power CONIFA World Football Cup final after defeating Szekely Land 4-2 at Colston Avenue.

Two first-half goals from Bence Lizak and Gyorgyi Toma’s second-half effort gave Karpatalya a solid lead, and despite Norbert Benko-Biro and Laszlo Szocs scoring twice in three minutes for Szekely Land, the advantage proved too much to overcome.

Now the Hungarian minority from western Ukraine will meet Northern Cyprus, a Turkish group from Cyprus, in the final which will be hosted by Enfield Town on June 9.

Bence Lizak said: “We came here not just to play football, we came here to win the cup, and we will see in the final – whatever can happen.”

When quizzed on what he thought about the fans’ support, he added: “It was amazing, so we are very thankful for them and everything [they have done].”

Lizak also believes the amount of time the team has spent together has helped them to get this far.

The match began with intensity and Szekely nearly got off to a disastrous start when Csaba Czismada’s goal-line clearance spared Pavel Horvat’s blushes after a risky back pass on 22 minutes.

Arthur Gyorgyi and Szabolcs Kilyen found themselves in Mark Clattenburg’s book past the half hour before Lizak beat three defenders on the way to scoring Karpatalya’s opener on 36 minutes.

Szekely Land had the opportunity to equalise moments later when Robert Ilyes was brought down inside the box, but he was denied by Bela Fejer from 12 yards out.

It became two after the break when Lizak’s long-range effort ricocheted off Horvat and into the net shortly before the hour mark to increase Karpatalya’s lead.

Chances came and went for Szekely Land during the second half, and Szocs had perhaps the best opportunity of them all but he blasted his shot over the bar just yards away from goal.

And things went from bad to worse with 15 minutes remaining, when Ilyes brought down Lizak inside the box for a Karpatalya penalty.

His own foul forced him to be carried off with an injury as Gyorgy Toma duly converted to make it three.

However, Szekely Land staged their comeback soon after when Benko-Biro headed in Gyorgyi’s cross before Szocs struck a stunning goal outside the box with 10 minutes left.

The game was poised for a dramatic finish late on, only for Lizak to release Barta through to score past Horvat in the 91st minute to erase all doubt.

This is the furthest Karpatalya have been in the CONIFA World Football Cup, having qualified as a wildcard team following the explosion of Felvidek for the 2018 tournament.

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