Warm evening kissed by the Sun in A.LeCoq Arena: the perfect weather for May football.
When in other countries the season is ending, the competition is really getting going in Estonia. And it does with the most important game in terms of titles won but also table as Flora was just two points clear of Levadia ahead of the clash.
Hurt confirmed both Prins between the sticks and the same 4-2-3-1. As usual, he did not give up to rotation, the message is clear: everyone is a start at Flora. Instead of fielding Alliku on the right flank, moved Prosa there to give Sander Post the role of central pivot with the aim of giving a more physical threat to Artjunin. The defensive line presented Junolainen as left full-back since Jürgenson is sidelined by a knee injury.
Marko Kristal presented his 4-4-2 with his only strikers, Teever and Ivanov, up front, El-Hussieny on the left and Subbotin on the right. Instead of Kaljumäe pairing with Antonov, he opted for Raudsepp there. The defensive line was the usual one in front of Śmiśko with Podholjuzin recycled as central defender.
Levadia started the game without any kind of wait-and-see behavior as they immediately brought pressure to Flora in the very earlyminutes.
However, the very first chance was for Flora as Post served a good ball in the middle for Beglarishvili during a counterattack situation. The pint-sized Georgian trequartista could not reach the ball as Śmiśko was already on it (5’)
One minute later Levadia replied with a good cross sent by El-Hussieny to Ivanov in the box. The Levadia’s nr.25 was able to control the ball and move where there was enough space to turn and try the shot.
His attempt was over the bar although (6’)
The first corner of the game was for Flora (8’) however no danger was brought to Levadia’s goal positioned under the traditional Flora fans sector.
The Ivanov-El Hussieny partnership worked again on 10’ minutes when the Russian striker found the Pharaoh in the box with a good lob. The Egyptian controlled the ball and tried to go past Mets who defended well and avoided any danger brought to Prins goal.
On the second corner-kick for Flora (11’) Post had an aerial chance however Śmiśko was well positioned to catch the ball.
Meanwhile the Flora fans were offering a great display of smokebombs and flares that lightened up the challenge. Only a couple of Levadia fans were cheering the their heroes who conquered the Estonian Cup in the same stadium on Sunday.
The first fifteen minutes were not dull at all, including another couple of attempts for Levadia: Ivanov’s header (15’) just landed comfortably in Prins’ hands from a free-kick situation and Antonov try from distance was walled appropriately by Frolov (17’).
On 21’ minutes Prins was very responsinve in clearing a Levadia corner-kick with his fist to avoid the worst in his box.
One minute later, Levadia was caught in a counter-attack as Post released for Logua basically free on the left flank.
Podholjuzin, covering Kulinits who was pressuring Begla, manage to recoil and compel the nr.8 to either get rid of the ball or to try to sprint until the bottom of the field. Logua resorted to a long ball which ended up being a shot attempt from distance that did not find better fortune than dying over the bottom line.
On 28’ minutes El-Hussieny tried to put his first seal on the Tallinn ‘Classico’ as he attempted a lob kick from distance and central position. Prins was a bit out of the small box, however, Omar’s attempt was over the bar leaving the Egyptian hands in hair and the Flora shot-stopper relieved.
Three minutes later, Logua, from left side, managed to penetrate in the box where Podholjuzin and Kulinits were guarding. The shot by the Russian was blocked by Śmiśko, as usual rock solid presence for his side when needed.
The next remarkable situation occurred on 37’ minutes as Prins made a save that was equal to a goal.
Flora was caught in counterattack as Frolov’s lob for Prosa was not precise.
El-Hussieny collected the ball in Levadia’s half and made it travel fast for Ivanov along the touchline. The Russian nr.25 had all the time to control, come closer and aim at Teever. The nr.11 header was well-aimed under the bar if Stanislav Prins right fist had not deflected it into corner.
A prodigious save that was repeated a minute later when, on the developments of one of the following corner-kicks, he deflected Ivanov’s header aimed at the far post. The Russian striker could not believe his attempted did hit the back of the net.
They were Levadia’s best chances of first half marking the visitors’ slight supremacy with Flora suffering the ‘blacks’ - away jerseys - initiative.
Second half started with the same formations and line-up as first: each coach didn’t deem necessary to bring any change.
On 49’ minutes, Pikk clearing into the touchline without too many pleasantries finally solved a scrum situation close to Śmiśko.
Six minutes later, Begla tried from distance. His shot was deflected however the ball did not change direction, still aiming at Śmiśko’s goal. The Ukrainian goalkeeper had to outdo himself to stretch out and send the ball over the bar in order to avoid the worst.
If the sky brought some threatening clouds in the second half, the intensity instead did not decrease with both sides playing openly and trying to bring dangers from the flanks (El-Hussieny for Levadia and Prosa for Flora).
On 63’ minutes, Hurt decided Logua’s game was over and sent in Alliku to operate on the right flank moving Prosa on the left one.
As soon as rain started to pour, Levadia’s chances poured on Flora as well: first Teever managed to collect a deep ball sent in the box (67’) however Prins was good in closing the space and compelling the Levadia nr.11 to shoot immediately without too much accuracy. The ball floated along the goal line before being recollected by the defence. One minute later El-Hussieny had a chance again from left side to hit Prins, however the Flora goalkeeper was once and again responding adequately.
On 70’ minutes, Baranov entered the referee’s notepad as the first (and only) cautioned player of the challenge. A fair decision considering he literally chopped off Podholjuzin running forward. The nr.22 challenge was untimely.
On 72’ minutes, Subbotin had a go at Prins with one of his well-aimed shots. The nr.33 did not lose his composure and deflected the ball outside of his box without taking any risk of blocking it. This was one Subbotin's best moments, which were few: his performance was mediocre compared to his recent ones.
On 75’ minutes, Baranov had another risky challenge on El-Hussieny who was starting a promising counterattack after slotting between a couple of Flora players. The Flora nr.22 fouled the Egyptian from the side.
Tohver preferred to discuss with the player rather than showing another card that would have left Flora one man light. The impression was a yellow card would have not been inappropriate.
On 80’ minutes, Sobtśenko, who had replaced Luigend earlier had a good chance to bring home the three points.
Begla lifted a ball for him, however the 20-year-old midfielder header was a mere meter away from from Śmiśko’s left post.
The Ukrainian goalkeeper was ready to come out on 84’ minute when read a long ball sent from the left and caught it before Prosa could catch it.
The game soon switched on the other side with Prins denying again a goal chance to Levadia and probably earning the chevrons of Man Of The Match.
It was the real last emotion of the game until Tohver whistled the end after the last set-piece chance granted to Flora for a foul on Alliku.
The draw was a piece of good news for Kalju as they can lead now four points clear of Flora and six of Levadia. The latters will take on Kalju on Friday for what is expected to be a vibrating derby at Kadriorg.