- Flora must win against the top 5 teams if they want to stay in the title race
- Infonet have the quality, but they are not quite there yet
- Flora needs another player like Alliku as Prosa is still not ready for 90 minutes
By Deni Delev
The rain that had been pouring in Tallinn for the past few days finally stopped on Friday which meant excellent playing conditions for the teams of FC Flora and FC Infonet in the derby match of round 21 of Premium Liiga.
Flora entered the match with a winning imperative after losing the first position on the table while Infonet in good mood after the 3-0 win over Narva came to the A. Le Coq Arena with a hope to close the gap with the top 3 even more.
Infonet started the match aggressively pushing the hosts in their own half. In the 5th minute Kalimullin had the first chance of the match, but his header went over the bar. Four minutes later Harin tried his chance from outside the box, however, it was an easy catch for Mait Toom. Just a minute later the defender Kalimullin tried again, this time from 20 meters, but his shot went in the stands. In the 21st minute the home team had their first chance when Jürgenson made his way into the box, passed towards Gussev, but the young winger failed to materialize the excellent pass. In the 23rd minute two new attempts for Infonet, but both Kozlovs’ and Harin’s shot from outside were an easily saved by Toom. In the 29th Flora had their best chance of the first half when Šlein sent a powerful shot from outside which Lavrentjev just shortly punched away, but his defenders were prepared and sent the ball into corner. In the 39th minute Mashichev tried from the edge of the box, but again Toom got the better as he punched the ball into corner. Until the end of the first half FC Flora managed to establish balance in the midfield, but no attempts were made to break the deadlock so as soon as the clock struck 45 minutes referee Grigori Ošomkov blew the whistle to end the first half.
In the second half, following the advice of their coach, the home team started bravely and had more of the possession but couldn’t create a goal threatening chance. Instead, it was Infonet who almost scored in the 58th minute when Harin’s attempt to pass the ball towards Kozlovs took a deflection and hit Toom’s post. In the following attack Jürgenson with an excellent free kick hit the post on the other side. In the 68th minute Harin battled to get the ball at the edge of the box, passed to Dmitrijev, but the midfielder’s attempt went wide. In the 79th minute Jääger tried from a free kick, but Lavrentjev with an excellent save denied him. In the 82nd minute Harin with the best chance for the guests thus far as he was left alone in front of Toom, but the attacker of Infonet tried to be effective and his bicycle kick went over the goal. The most interesting moments, however, came in the 90th minute of the match. First, Jääger almost scored an own goal trying to clear the ball from the box. In the added time real drama in front of Toom’s goal. First Avilov hit the post and then Flora’s goalkeeper with an excellent save denied the guests three points. On the other side Saliste with a 100% chance after Beglarashvili’s pass, but Lavrentjev with a world-class save kept the nets calm. The second half definitely justified the expectations but none of the teams managed to get away with the three points and the draw was a step back for both of them. Flora is now 3 points behind Kalju Nõmme, while Infonet trails 4 points behind Sillamäe in the battle for the 4th position on the table.
RdS MOTM: Tanel Melts
Premium Liiga Matchday 20 Round-Up
It was Levadia who took the lead after Rakhmanov took advantage of Baranov’s inability to clear the ball from his own box. However, Artjunin’s red card at the beginning of the second half allowed the hosts to play much better, and with Kruglov’s unfortunate own goal they managed to earn a point from this match.
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Vladislav Kozlovs gave the home side the lead after 34 minutes, and after some second half pressure from Narva they were reduced to ten men after Maksim Lipin appeared to lash out at Nikolay Mashichev. A well-executed own goal by Volodymyr Kilikevych and a fine strike by Jevgeni Harin sealed the points for the hosts.
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Nõmme Kalju eventually ground a stubborn Tammeka Tartu side down to bag a 3-0 victory that saw them move back to the top of the table.
It took the visitors until just after the hour mark to open the scoring, with substitute Tarmo Neemelo somewhat clumsily helping the ball over the line after Henrik Purg’s header from Joel Lindpere’s corner came back off the post, hit Neemelo, hit the post again and eventually found its way in to the goal.
Kalju should have been 2-0 just 60 seconds later, as Tarmo Neemelo smashed over from just six yards out after some good build-up saw Ats Purje play the big striker in.
Kalju hardly had to wait any longer for the second goal to come, though, as Hidetoshi Wakui’s pass with the outside of his boot found Purje lurking on the edge of the box, and his right-footed shot swept past Karli Kutt in the Tammeka goal.
Tammeka did well to stem the tide that had quickly built up, but the in-form Purje finished Tammeka off in the 90th minute, once again collecting a pass from Wakui, this time down the right edge of the box, before taking the ball in to the area and smashing it home from an angle.
Paide and Parnu played out a thrilling 3-3 draw on Saturday that did neither side’s survival chances much good.
Ats Sillaste opened the scoring on 33 minutes with a wonder strike. Vjatseslav Zahovaiko’s short corner to Sillaste a couple of yards from the right corner of the box was swept first time across goal and in to the far top corner.
Parnu levelled just before the break, however, when Joosep Sarapuu’s long ball over the top of the Paide defence fell to Taavi Laurits, who poked home from close range.
Jasper Uwaegbalum’s drive forward helped tee up Lauri Varendi on the left corner of the box and he swept the ball across the keeper and in to the far bottom corner to make it 2-1 to the hosts five minutes after the break.
Paide were 3-1 up seven minutes later with Zahovaiko the provider once more. His ball to Artur Rattel on the left edge of the box was swept in to the far bottom corner once more in a not too dissimilar fashion to Paide’s second goal.
Parnu pegged the hosts back five minutes later as Mart-Mattis Niinepuu failed to deal with Henri Hanson’s through ball from right back, making almost no contact with the ball and allowing Laurits to slot home his second goal in to an empty net.
Paide were reduced to ten men with 21 minutes to go as Zahovaiko was shown a red card, before Parnu’s comeback was completed when Karl Palatu headed home Anton Issakov’s corner.
Sillamae Kalev survived a late scare as they defeated Tulevik Viljandi 2-1 on Monday.
Denis Vnukov’s superb curling free kick from 25 yards put the visitors in front after 40 minutes.
Aleksandr Volkov put Sillamae 2-0 up, heading home Daniil Ratnikov’s cross at the far post after the latter had collected Jaroslav Kvasov’s pass on the right wing and evaded the attention of Siim Saar.
Sander Post made it a nervy final few minutes for the visitors, however, with his own curling free kick from 20 yards to rival that of Vnukov’s in the first half. Sillamae were able to hold on and remain in 4th spot in the table, 8 points behind Levadia in 3rd.
- a draw at the A. Le Coq Arena from which benefitted only Kalju Nõmme
- it will take time for Subbotin, Artjunin and Kink to get back to competitive form
- the title race will be long and tough for the top 3 teams
Matchday 20 brought us the Tallinn „Clasico“ between Flora and Levadia. It was a sunny Monday evening and the pitch at the national arena was in excellent condition as the players were making their way out. It was a match with high stakes as the top 3 teams were separated by only 2 points and the winner from this match would stay on top at least until the next round. The sunny weather and the high expectations meant more spectators who supported both teams.
The match started with both of the teams trying to establish control in midfield, but neither succeeding in that. The home team had a very mild initiative, but their attacks were stopped before entering the final third. After the initial 10-15 minutes the team of FC Levadia slowly managed to push the hosts higher and put pressure on them. The biggest danger was coming from the left side where Luts, and often Omar attempted to cause damage to Flora’s defensive line. In the 20th minute Teever found himself in a very good position, but Toom with a good save stopped the robust attacker from scoring. In the follow-up corner from Luts, Peetson found an empty space but his header went just wide. In the 28th minute referee Saar penalised Gussev for simulation giving him yellow card and free kick for Levadia. The ball sent in the box wasn’t cleared properly by Baranov after which Rakhmanov tapped it behind Toom’s back for 1-0 for the reigning champions. In the following minutes Flora tried to bring possession back, but it was Levadia who looked more dangerous and continued their attacks. In the 36th minute the away team claimed penalty after Teever was brought down in the box, but referee Saar just waved off their protests. Until the end of the first half the goalkeepers didn’t have any serious shots to deal with.
At the beginning of the second half coach Hurt introduced Prosa instead of Alliku who suffered an injury and wasn’t able to continue. Already in the 46th minute after a long ball forward Prosa managed to escape the defensive line but Artjunin reached and tackled him from behind and for referee Saar it was a straight red card which meant full second half with a player less for Levadia. In those moments Hurt pulled the other attacker from the bench, Joonas Tamm and Flora went forward in full power. In the 60th minute their pressure paid off after Frolov’s corner when Pareiko didn’t react well and Kruglov scored an unfortunate own goal heading the ball in his Pareiko’s net. In the 62nd minute in a rare excursion in Flora’s half in that period, Luts tried his luck from 20 meters but his shot went just wide. The home team continued to push but with the introduction of Taavi Rähn, Levadia’s defense remained solid and did not allow Gussev, Logua and Sappinen to create a goal threatening chance. As time was passing it became obvious that none of the teams would risk losing a point instead of getting three. In the 82nd minute Logua sent a powerful shot towards Pareiko’s goal but hit the net from the outside. When everyone thought it was over, first Beglarashvili tried his luck with a shot over the bar and then Toom made a nice save to keep the result the same. At the end of the added 4 minutes Eiko Saar blew the whistle and Flora and Levadia shared the points which allowed Nõmme Kalju once again to climb to the top of the table one point ahead of Flora.
RdS MOTM: Siim Luts