Sunny afternoon at the Kadriorg stadium and a good introduction to the last matchday of the third round of games with the derby match between Kalju and Infonet. A match that is very important for both teams. With a win in front of their own crowd, Kalju will stay in the title chase. On the other hand, a win for Infonet will mean they are still in contention for the top 3 places that bring European football next season. The stakes and the expectations are high, but who will come out as a winner from this duel?
Coach Igor Prins made only one change from the team that beat Jõhvi in the previous round and that was the return of Telesh between the sticks. Bärengrub and Rodrigues were in central defense, Mööl and Kallaste on their standard full-back positions, Vunk and Reginald were responsible for the midfield, Kirss and Puri were deployed on the flanks and as usual Wakui played just behind Neemelo.
Coach Pustov also opted for one change and that was Semakhin instead of Aidara. Igonen was on the goal, Avilov and Kalimullin in defense, Elhi and Malov on the full-back positions. Melts and Semakhin were deployed in the center of the park, Valov and Lipin on the flanks and Taar took Aidara’s place behind Manucho.
The match started as expected. Both teams were trying to establish control in midfield and chances were difficult to create. The first notable moment came in the 7th minute when Telesh managed to save Lipin’s header. As Kalju was trying to push forward, Infonet was the one with the chances. In the 20th minute Valov sent a nice ball in the box, but Manucho’s volley went just over the bar. In the 27th minute first good chance for the hosts when Wakui and Neemelo combined well but the latter failed to shoot towards the goal. In the 37th minute big mess in Kalju’s box. Valov again sent a nice ball towards Manucho, his shot was blocked and the ball went towards Lipin who was brought down, but Saar stayed quiet much to the dismay of the visitors. Two minutes later the punishment came from Vunk whose Pirlo-esque free kick gave Igonen no chance. 1-0 for Kalju and songs on the stands. In the 41st minute another great chance for the home team when Robert Kirss sent a cannon ball from 25 meters but Igonen raised to the challenge and with fantastic save prevented another goal for the hosts.
Kalju went on break with one goal advantage even though the impression was that it wasn’t deserved as Infonet had more of the game and managed to create more chances.
At the beginning of the second half, coach Pustov decided to change something and Harin was brought in for Lipin. The effect was immediate as Infonet looked way more dangerous, but at the same time opening up more space for Kalju’s players to create chances on the counter. In the 57th minute excellent chance for Infonet from free kick. Manucho took the shot but Telesh pulled out a nice save to prevent Infonet’s top scorer from extending his tally. In the following period Kalju players tried to break down their opponent’s game with a lot of fouls in the center of the park. That kind of approach seemed to work for them as their opponents failed to threaten Telesh more. As time was passing by, Infonet players became more nervous and that made it more difficult for them to create chances. Kalju established control in midfield and managed to keep possession. In 82nd minute, however, long ball towards Kalju’s box was poorly managed by the defense and Bärengrub pulled Taar down. Saar didn’t hesitate this time and showed towards the penalty spot while sending Kalju’s captain off. Manucho was the clear executor from the penalty for 1-1 and silence on the stands. In the 85th minute Harin from Infonet was elso sent off for a second booking. In the 87th minute new chance on the counter for Infonet. Dmitrijev played Taar in space, but the latter missed a nice chance to bring his team the lead. In the 90th minute great chance for Kalju, but Igonen pulled out a miraculous save to deny Puri. As the game was heating up Vunk made one dangerous foul in the center of the field which brought him a straight red card from the referee.
Final whistle from Saar and a draw at Kadriorg for the opening game of matchday 27 and a result that is bad for both teams. Long way to go for both teams in accomplishing their season aims.
Players ratings by Angelo Palmeri here.