Levadia secured a convincing 6-0 victory over Lokomotiv Johvi in miserable conditions at Kadriorg Stadium. The result saw them bounce back from their disappointing 0-0 draw with Narva last weekend, and the match-fixing scandal involving Aleksei Jahhimovits in midweek.
They started in their preferred 4-4-2 formation; Ingemar Teever continued up front alongside Artur Rattel, with Marek Kaljumae alongside Ilja Antonov in the centre of midfield, as Vukobratovic was left out of the squad in light of the fact that he is currently one yellow card away from suspension. Maksim Podholjuzin moved to centre back in place of the now-departed Jahhimovits, with Olexandr Volchkov slotting in at right back as expected.
Surprisingly, Lokomotiv started with two up front. Lasha Naveriani and Vitaly Kutuzov led the line, with Kevin Kaivoya, Anton Vasilyev and Svjatoslav Jakovlev offering support from their central midfield positions. Preche-Amout-Florian Mboungou sat just in front of the defence, and occasionally dropped back to form a 5-man back line, in what was a 4-1-3-2 formation.
The wet weather conditions meant for a fast and slippery pitch, and neither side managed to get the better of it in the opening exchanges.
Lokomotiv’s front two had clearly been instructed to hold their positions upfield, as the Levadia defence was forced to be a little more cautious than they might have expected.
The visitors were clearly in the mood to have a go, and their quick, direct counter attacks were giving Levadia a little food for thought. Levadia tried to get their feet on the ball a little more, but found the sometimes 5-man defence impenetrable early on.
The game’s first chance of any note came in the 11th minute, as Aleksandr Panfilov punched a cross out, catching Aleksei Larin in the process, with the ball eventually falling to Igor Subbotin. The Levadia man could only blast the ball over, however.
A minute later, Lokomotiv had an excellent chance to open the scoring. Naveriani broke from a Levadia attack, played a neat 1-2 with Kutuzov, and broke the offside trap to receive the ball clear behind the Levadia defence. As he charged towards goal, the recovering Raudsepp managed to get far back enough to put the Lokomotiv striker off, as his shot across goal rolled wide of the far post.
Levadia had a half-chance a minute later as a ball into the box from the left by Raudsepp was brought down by Teever, who managed to tee up El Hussieny, but his shot sailed way over the bar.
Lokomotiv’s high tempo and cover in defence was making life hard for Levadia, who were struggling to get any fluency into their game. Naveriani and Kutuzov were linking well for the visitors, with two of their three central midfielders constantly providing support going forward.
Levadia’s first real chance came after 20 minutes; Rattel skipped past Potapov on the left hand side, continued to cut inside and unleashed a low, curling drive from the edge of the box that was pushed out for a corner by Panfilov.
El Hussieny saw his 28th minute shot from outside the box fizz wide of the post, as Levadia were being forced to go more direct than they would have liked.
Back up the other end, Lokomotiv were managing to get themselves into good positions around the edge of the Levadia penalty box, and on 36 minutes they had a second golden chance to break the deadlock.
Seven minutes from half time, the industrious Naveriani was released down the left hand side with Artjom Artjunin shackling him closely. His cross-field ball found Kaivoya on the right with plenty of time and a man in support, creating a 2-on-1 situation in favour of Lokomotiv. Kaivoya’s complete lack of composure, however, saw him attempt a first-time side-footed shot across the keeper that rolled harmlessly wide.
They won’t have expected one chance like this, let alone two, in the whole match, and their inability to make the most of their chances was to be severely punished.
Firstly, a poor attempted clearance by Potapov was seized upon by Rattel, whose stride forward was cynically halted by the floundering Lokomotiv defender, who received a yellow card for his troubles.
Then, just two minutes after Lokomotiv’s second glorious goal-scoring opportunity, El Hussieny’s corner from the left led to an almighty scramble in the box, with several shots blocked before the ball fell kindly to Subbotin near the post, and he made no mistake from close range to give the hosts the lead.
The goal was harsh on Lokomotiv as they had been good value for their even standing in the game until that point, but their capitulation wasn’t finished. The impressive Naveriana went sliding into a tackle on Raudsepp, but took a painful knock to the knee and had to be carried off, with Maksim Bazjukin replacing him. To add further insult to injury, Levadia took a two-goal lead just before the half time whistle.
El Hussieny cut in from the left-hand side, and his in-swinging cross was met by Teever, who got to the ball before the goalkeeper and powered a header into the back of the net. After such a promising opening 40 minutes for the visitors, they had been undone in no time at all and trailed by two goals at the break.
Teever had taken a knock to the head during his goal-scoring exploits and was replaced at half time by Vladislav Ivanov. Levadia made also made a second change, with Aleksandr Kulinits replacing Vulchkov.
The first half crescendo had clearly knocked the stuffing out of Lokomotiv, and the second half was an almost one-sided affair.
Levadia came out of the traps early on and had three good chances to extend their lead before actually doing so.
El Hussieny’s shot from outside the box was deflected wide in the 49th minute, before Subbotin raced in behind the Lokomotiv defence to meet a bouncing ball, but his lob was too powerful and dropped over the crossbar.
Three minutes later, Rattel played Ivanov through on goal, but his low drive zipped wide of the post with Panfilov going in the opposite direction.
Lokomotiv’s defence lost their discipline and went walkabout in the 54th minute, as Raudsepp played in Ivanov on the left wing. With the goalkeeper inexplicably advancing on him, Ivanov cheekily back-heeled the ball to El Hussieny on the edge of the box, and his shot went straight through the defence and into the unguarded net to make it 3-0.
Levadia were cruising, and could have got another just five minutes later; Subbotin cut in from the right-hand side, and his chip to the far post found Ivanov, but his shot was well parried by the goalkeeper.
Not to be denied a fourth goal, Levadia struck gold one again on 63 minutes. After several decent openings, El Hussieny’s simple centre from the left was easily tapped home by Subbotin. Lokomotiv had thrown the towel in and Levadia were wiping the floor with them.
Subbotin was replaced by Heiko Tamm in the 65th minute, before Lokomotiv made a change of their own, with Nikita Volkov replacing Kutuzov.
Levadia were attacking in waves by this point, knocking the ball around for fun against a Lokomotiv side unrecognisable from their first half efforts.
Tamm raced clear of the defence, but saw his low drive strike the base of the post, before Artjunin smashed a fantastic free kick across goal, only for it to cannon back off the angle of the goal frame.
Lokomotiv made their final attempt to stem the tide, with Nikita Apet replacing Jakovlev, but a fifth goal was clearly in the offing, and it came in the 75th minute; Artjunin’s corner to the far post was turned back into the middle by Kulinits, right into the path of Ivanov, who was on hand to smash come from close range.
El Hussieny almost made it six, but his powerful strike from the edge of the box was parried over the bar, before Ivanov did put the icing on the cake with a close-range strike in the dying seconds to make the final score 6-0 to the hosts.
The game might not quite have been a case of ‘what if..?’ for Lokomotiv, but their first half display was followed by a horror show of a second half. They might curse their luck, but they have no-one else to blame for such abject defending and their undisciplined reaction to the swing of the first period.
Levadia will try to forget their own opening 40 minutes, but the manner in which they professionally dispatched their floundering opposition was what had been expected of them. The rain clouds around Kadriorg didn’t seem quite so dark for them by the end of the match, but for Johvi, the storm continues.