Dinamo Salvage Silverware with Cup Final Thrashing of Samtredia

The headlines from the domestic season in Georgia have been dominated by historic league winners Dila Gori, and rightly so, but the country’s establishment club Dinamo Tbilisi ended a disappointing season on an emphatically high note with a stunning 5-0 demolition of Samtredia in the Georgian Cup final on May 26 at Mikheil Meskhi Stadium.

Dinamo, who recently underwent a change in management with Kakha Gogichaishvili being replaced by the experienced Gia Geguchadze, eased to the biggest winning margin in Georgian Cup final history and their third successive victory in the tournament named after one of the club’s greatest sons – Davit Kipiani.

While this Dinamo vintage is a pale shadow of Kipiani’s era in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Dinamo reigned supreme not only in the Soviet Union but the whole of Europe, this was one of the club’s more memorable performances in recent years.

With the match scheduled on Independence Day and an afternoon storm hitting the capital city it was not surprising that a crowd of little more than 2,000 braved the roofless Mikheil Meskhi Stadium for the final.

Within 14 minutes Dinamo broke the deadlock with a deft header from Giorgi Papunashvili to silence the erstwhile noisy Samtredia contingent in the stands.

Despite having a clutch of experienced Georgian internationals in their lineup including Zurab Khizanishvili and Davit Kvirkvelia, Samtredia mustered little in response to a clinical Dinamo side who were particularly ruthless in the second-half.

Spanish striker Manuel slotted past Samtredia keeper Revi Tevdoradze five minutes after the restart and when Papunashvili struck a long-range shot past the Imeretians’ stopper three minutes later, the engraving of the trophy could already begin.

Manuel, a free transfer in the winter window and yet another of the Spanish wanderers to end up at Tbilisi in recent years, produced his best display in a Dinamo shirt yet and notched a second of the game from a Papunashvili cross in the 68th minute shortly before being substituted to a rousing ovation from Dinamo’s Gladiators fan group.

There was still time for substitute Davit Volkovi to add a fifth in the closing stages to add some gloss to a convincing cup final triumph.

To add further misery to Samtredia’s evening, the resounding loss means that they will not compete in next season’s Europa League, with the cup place going to fourth-placed Tskhinvali.

One interested spectator was Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze who would have had mixed loyalties having played for Dinamo as a youngster and having been born in Samtredia.

The following day he would also have watched on as Jaba Kankava became the first Georgian player to participate in a major European final since Kaladze himself in Milan’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool on 2007, as Jaba Kankava started for Dnipro in their 3-2 defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League final in Warsaw.

Hopefully it is not another eight years before the next Georgian adds to hat distinguished list but Dinamo’s aim will be more modest next season as they enter the Europa League at the first qualifying round which begins in five weeks.

Reaching the group stages, which would require winning four ties, would equate to a sensation for Georgian football and under Geguchadze the chances of doing so ought to improve.

Alastair Watt

28 May 2015 22:31