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Matchday 1, FC Levadia vs. FC Infonet 0-0

Angelo PalmeriComment
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The big expectations for a great game at start of season soon vanished under the bad weather and an overall rough game dominated by physical challenges. One point each is a good way to start the season if you play against another podium-bidder. Flora and Kalju can already go in front tomorrow.


Marko Kristal started basically with the same line as against FC Santos in the Supercup exception made for Dmitri Kruglov replacing Artur Pikk and Belarusian centre back Artjom Rahmanov. Kristal opts for the same 4-4-1-1 with Omar El-Hussieny behind Kaimar Saag.

4-2-3-1 for Aleksandr Pushtov preferring Mihhail Lavrentjev to Matvei Igonen and giving a chance to Eduard ‘Lethal Weapon’ Golovljov on the right flank. Aleksandr Dmitrjev debuts in his new club against his former lining with Tanel Melts in front of the defence where Vladimir Avilov misses on injury. 

The weather conditions did not spare the few courageous people showing up at Sportland Arena for the inaugural match and the most interesting clash of matchday 1. Sleet and rain felt on the artificial grass in the same fashion as admired during the Supercup game.

The first corner is earned by Infonet on 4’ minutes following an attempt of quick counter from Levadia’s right side where Laitinen guards. Kalimullin attempt in the box is to be forgoteten.

On 7’ minutes, it’s Levadia’s turn to earn a corner gifted by their former player Dmitrjev. The slippery conditions of the ball didn’t allow the international for a better control on Lipin’s cross. On the take referee Eiko Saar stops the game for a block in the box. Infonet’s prowess in losing the ball easily allows Levadia to control the game in their half with Pushtov XI unable to properly come out in the first fifteen minutes of the game. The first attempt on target is by Kaimar Saag on 12’ minutes when the international grasps the ball on the edge, turns and then curls at Lavrentjev. The shot is weak and slow and the Infonet’s shot stopper reads it well.

The game quality does not get off the ground for a while. Infonet are happy to wait for the Champions in their half, however the chances for counters are basically none. Assistant coach Bragin and head coach Pushtov talk vividly on the touchline, probably already thinking about corrections to the mindset in second half. However, those few times the ball is in Levadia’s half, the black jerseys are moving fast to exert pressing as one.

On 19’ minutes Omar tries to set up Saag in the box. The Egyptian, without stopping a long ball coming from the defence, plays it forward with the outside of his boot. In doing that, he nutmegs Kalimullin. Saag is well controlled and does not manage to reach it.

On 23’ minutes Eiko Saar gives a verbal warning to Kassim Aidara for pulling down Laitinen. Kruglov is on the take and compels Lavrentjev to fist the ball out of the box. The shot was slowered by the strong wind creating a weird effect that compelled the Infonet shot stopper to anticipate his movement.
One minute later, Melts sends a ball in the box from a set-piece. The pass crosses the box dangerously with Semakhin about to put it past Shirokov. It’s Infonet’s first real chance.
On 26’ minutes Shirokov has to make the very first difficult save of the game as Kozlovs dribbles half of Levadia defence and then turns it with the inside of the left boot towards Shirokov’s first post. The Russian goalkeeper, albeit having the visual covered, is very prompt in reacting and palming into corner.
In the second part of first half, FC Infonet have become more brave as Levadia took a break from the build-up.

The first yellow card is shown to the rough Deniss Malov tripping Levadia’s captain of the day, Ilja Antonov.

On 36’ minutes Pecha concedes a free-kick on the edge of the box. Kozolovs take is smashed on the wall with no avail.

In the final minutes of the first half, FC Infonet finds the capacity to control the ball and develop some interesting combinations. However it was enough for a rather stark first half brought to an end with no added time. 

Kozlovs' take will go against the green wall (Premium Liiga on Twitter)

Kozlovs' take will go against the green wall (Premium Liiga on Twitter)

On the resume, the first interesting chance is for Levadia earning a free-kick from the edge of the box due to Melts fouling Luts. Kruglov powerful shot hits the wall, on the rebound, Laitinen compels Lavrentjev to outdo himself in order to palm a powerful shot away.

On 54’ minutes also Captain Antonov is booked for pulling down Elhi galloping on a counter on the left flank, irreproachable decision by the international official.

On 59’ minutes Saag tries to turns a nice cross sent in the box by Antonov with his left foot, however the international does not find the target.

The game enters into a phase where both teams commit several mistakes and fouls compelling Eiko Saar to use his whistle more than often.

Like on 68’ minutes when Semakhin welcomes Ingemar Teever on the pitch (he replaced Maksim Lipin, good performance) by elbowing him in the back. The unfair challenge is punished with a yellow card.

 

On 70’ minutes Laitinen sends a good cross after a deep run. However the ball is in Lavrentjev’s zone. The Infonet keeper doesn’t risk the catch and fists it out.

On 71’ minutes Omar receives a through-ball from the left, straight into the back. With a nice movement he frees himself of Malov, however when tried to find the space for the shot, both the defender and Lavrentjev are closing the space.
Approaching the seventyfifth minute, Levadia take the initiative back.

On 74’ minutes also Rahmanov earns a place in Saar’s notepad after a rough challenge on Ehli.

Both coaches bring in changes which do not add anything to the plot of the game heavily affected by the weather conditions.

On 81’ minutes El-Hussieny is again the most dangerous Levadia man in the box as he has a great chance to shoot at Lavrentjev with no obstacle. Malov outdoes himself in stopping the shot with his foot while sliding on the wet surface. Levadia’s best chance in second half.

On 86’ minutes Saag falls in the box, however Saar says there’s nothing. He is right since Saag faints a bit in a challenge with Kalimullin. The international is aware and doesn’t complain at all, Saar spares him a yellow card for the theatrical piece.

On 89’ Saar shows the 5th booking of the game to Harin who replaced Elhi a while earlier. It is the very last emotion of the game which ends after two minutes of added time.


FC LEVADIA

SHIROKOV 6
Good job on Kozlovs in first half when the Latvian turns a dangerous shot at him from inside the box. He has some problems in clearing the ball with his right foot when the ball is passed to him. Some unsafe save in second half. His colleague at Infonet was more remarkable.

LAITINEN 6
He works well in pair with Lipin and is always confident in solving any (few) trouble.

RAHMANOV 6
Once the work permit problems were solved, the Belarusian took his place in front of Shirokov replacing Taavi Rähn.
PECHA 6
Overall confident, concedes a dangerous set-piece on the edge of the box at the end of first half. Kozlovs five him a bit of work whenever the Latvian grabs the ball.

KRUGLOV 6,5
Great game for the international. Probably fuelled by the unlucky trials, he gets on the pitch with the usual grit. Dima is always added value.

LIPIN 6,5
Obviously the boy wanted to show he was right at leaving Infonet. He does a good job in first half keeping Infonet’s left side always busy. Pulled out in second half for Teever.

ANTONOV 6
Fierce battle in the middle of the pitch with Aidara and Melts. Brings the scars (yellow card) home.

RAUDSEPP 6
Same as Antonov but more careful in not getting booked.

LUTS 5,5
Against Santos was much easier. Malov is a tough client for anyone.

EL-HUSSIENY 6,5
The nicest things we can remember from this game came from Omar. Again close to score, but at least this time it’s not an epic miss in front of the open goal.

SAAG 6,5
He doesn’t enjoy the same spaces as against Santos, but he is clearly able to create some. Not easy since Kalimullin and Semakhin are controlling him very tight.

TEEVER SV – Nothing remarkable from the experienced striker.

Coach KRISTAL 6
The start is better than last season when he lost to Paide in injury time. Doesn’t bring in any sub that would change the game.
FC INFONET

LAVRENTJEV 6,5
Great save on the resume when the second half is still young. A convincing performance that sidelines Igonen for the next match.

VOLODIN 5,5
Quite shy in fron of Laitinen and Lipin.

KALIMULLIN 6
The usual tough guardian, he conceded very little to Saag.

SEMAKHIN 5,5
Same as Kalimullin, half a vote less for the ugly challenge on Teever.

MALOV 6,5
He’s rough, but effective. Especially when stops Omar shot in the box.

DMITRJEV 6,5
Good performance in front of his old team especially in first half.

MELTS 6
A better display in first half. In second half he gets tired and Pushtov sends in the 1993 Dõmov

GOLOVLJOV 5,5
Nothing remarkable from the Infonet talent. In second half he is replaced with Jevdokimov.

AIDARA 6
Good debut in tackling Levadia’s midfield with all means, legal and illegal.

ELHI 6
Gets better into the game during the second half when Levadia are trying to push for the opener and spaces are open for counters (not many)

KOZLOVS 7
Interesting signing, the most dangerous man for Infonet.

HARIN, JEVDOKIMOV AND DÕMOV ALL SV.

Coach PUSHTOV 5,5
In first half he is happy with controlling Levadia. In second probably tells his team to create something more but doesn’t last long. As Kristal, he is happy with the point.