Ten-man Jelgava lift Latvian Cup

FK Jelgava reclaimed the Latvian Cup despite playing 87 minutes with ten men, defeating FK Ventspils thanks to goals from Kennedy Eriba and Gints Freimanis.

Jelgava celebrate retaining the Latvian Cup
Jelgava celebrate retaining the Latvian Cup ©Roman Koksharov

First-half goals from Kennedy Eriba and Gints Freimanis proved enough for holders FK Jelgava to see off FK Ventspils and claim a third Latvian Cup in five years – despite playing 87 minutes with ten men. 

Everything seemed to favour Ventspils before kick-off, with the game taking place at the home of the league champions for the first time in the competition's history. The two sides had played out a 0-0 draw in the league on the same pitch four days earlier, but for anyone fearing another stalemate, doubts were quickly put to rest.

Jelgava defender Abdoulaye Diallo received a straight red card three minutes into the game but the ten men defied their numerical disadvantage to go ahead in the ninth through Eriba. Ventspils were unable to get their game going and Cheikh Diagne spurned a number of chances to bring the scores level.

Jelgava took advantage and doubled their lead in the 33rd minute as Freimanis rounded off a swift counter with a powerful shot. The holders withstood pressure after the break and held on to win a third cup, and a first in the coaching career of Vitālijs Astafjevs, Europe's most capped international footballer.

"This is a big victory for our club and our city," said Astafjevs. "Jelgava showed cup character, I am thrilled. You wish no one to be with ten men after three minutes, but the team reacted with an iron will, scored two goals and deserved this victory."

Midfielder Artis Lagzdiņš added: "We're immensely happy as Ventspils were favourites. We are a single unit where everyone helps everyone. We had no other choice after the red card. We would like to thank our supporters. What can be better than to see happiness in their eyes after the game?"