- Smooth start for the white-greens in their jubilar year
- Viljandi managed to hold the clean sheet only for 15 minutes
- Debut goal for Finnish striker Sakari Tukiainen who came off the bench in second half
Windy Saturday afternoon for the season opener for Flora and Viljandi as the fans were taking their seats at the Sportland Arena in Tallinn. 262 spectators showed up to support their teams in the run for a better start. After Levadia’s draw and Kalju’s and Sillamäe’s wins, the home team would definitely feel the pressure to put on a good performance and bring joy to their fans. But could Viljandi prove to be a tough opponent? Let’s go in details.
Coach Norbert Hurt fielded up an interesting starting XI, a combination of young and experienced forces. Mait Toom was deployed between the sticks, Enar Jääger was accompanied by Nikita Baranov in central defense, Gert Kams took the right full-back position, while Markus Jürgenson was on the left. German Šlein operated in the center of the park, Logua was on the left wing, Joseph Saliste on the right, and Zakaria Beglarashvili together with Rauno Sappinen played behind Rauno Alliku in the offensive line.
Coach Aivar Lillevere on the other hand fielded mainly youngsters led by the experienced Sander Post. Karl-Romet Nõmm got the nod for the goalkeeper’s position, Post and Piir were deployed in central defense, Tanel Lang was used on the right full-back position and Indrek Ilves on the left. In the midfield Lillevere also deployed four players, including Henn, Kübar, Loigo and Gerdo Juhkam and Karl Ivar Maar played behind Joonas Tamm who was the only attacker in the team.
The match started as expected, with heavy ball possession domination for the home team, but they found it hard to find holes in Viljandi’s defense led by former Flora’s fan favourite, Sander Post. The first chance came from Beglarashvili, but his shot went over the goal. The pressure was building in front of Nõmm’s goal as Saliste and Logua were pushing forward down the flanks. In the 16th minute they finally managed to break the deadlock after Logua beat Nõmm with an excellent half-volley from 18 meters. The goal, however, didn’t bring any changes in the game. Flora kept pushing forward, while Viljandi had their bus parked in front of the goal. It did seem like they would be satisfied with a minimal defeat from their trip to the capital. Until the end of the first half, the home team didn’t manage to create any serious chances, except for the shot from Sappinen in the 35th minute that went over the bar.
Quite eventless first 45 minutes as the home team got the lead and managed to keep it, not allowing the visitors to create a single chance to threaten Toom, who was more of a spectator.
The second half started in a similar fashion. Alliku almost scored in the first minute which was like a premonition of what was to follow. In the 59th minute the best moment of the match. Logua passed to Alliku at the edge of the box, who found Sappinen with an excellent back-heel pass and the 19 year old offensive player scored with a nice shot in Nõmm’s right corner. Ten minutes later, Hurt decided to make a double substitution, giving chance to Gussev and the new signing, Sakari Tukiainen. It was exactly these two players co-authoring the third goal for the home team. Gussev nicely found Tukiainen in the box, and the Finnish striker easily beat Viljandi’s goalkeeper to stamp his name on the scoring sheet. Until the end of the match, the home team mostly held the ball in their possession, not allowing Viljandi a single shot towards Toom’s goal.
Strong start for Flora as they proved their role of favourite in the opening match. As it comes to Viljandi, they will definitely need to do more if they want to stay in the top-flight for more than a season.
By Deni Delev
RdS Man of the match: Irakli Logua