‘El Clasico’ for everyone’s taste
Another sunny Saturday afternoon as Tallinn was getting ready for 61st derby between the arch rivals Levadia and Flora. Both teams had their minds set on grabbing the three points and continuing the title chase. Finally, Levadia and Flora fans showed up in numbers to support their favorite teams and to create beautiful atmosphere at the Sportland Arena.
Concerning the squads, Marko Kristal made only one change, giving the nod to Subbotin to finally make his comeback in the starting XI. The rest was as usual, Smishko on the goal, Jahhimovits and Artjunin in central defense, Pikk and Podholjuzin on the full-back positions. In central midfield, the “usual suspects” Antonov and Vukobratovic, Omar Al Hussieny took his left flank, Subbotin the right one and in the attacking line Rättel operated behind Teever.
Hurt, on the other hand, made few changes to the team that lost to Infonet in the previous round. Toom was on the goal, Mets and Rähn in front of him, Jürgenson was deployed on the left full back position and Baranov on the right. Luigend again operated the midfield, only this time paired with Frolov, the Russian international Irakly Logua took Gussev’s place on the left flank, Alliku was standardly on the right wing and Prosa as a central forward.
Before the referee Tarajev marked the beginning of the derby, Prosa received the award for player of the month by EJL, having scored consecutively in the last 4 matches and hoping to add to his tally in the upcoming match.
We didn’t have to wait long for the first exciting moments. In the 4th minute Flora got their first corner kick. Luigend sent the ball from the right side to the further post towards Logua, who skillfully returned it back to the center of Levadia’s box where Alliku brought the lead to the away team with a nicely taken half-volley kick. Even though Smishko managed to get hold of the ball, the referee decided that the ball crossed the line (and he was right, as also confirmed by our 'moviola'). 0-1 for Flora and happiness on the faces of their fans. However, that sounded the alarm clock in Levadia’s squad. Already in the 7th minute, Rättel had his shot blocked during a quick counter attack. In the 11th minute Antonov nicely made space for himself only to shoot far from the goal. In the 15th minute free kick for Levadia from dangerous 17 meters. Pikk took a nice low shot but Toom saves the danger. The equalizer finally came in the 19th minute. Teever passed to Rättel in the box, who unselfishly found Subbotin whose powerful shot ended behind Toom’s back. 1-1 and we are all leveled again. From there on, the champions took over control and dominated possession till the end of the first half. From this period, it is worth to mention the free kicks from Artjunin (good save by Toom), Teever’s header that went just wide and Omar’s attempt from 20 meters that went well over Flora’s goal. That marked the end of the first 45 minutes in which we saw lively football and lots of chances. At the end, Levadia may regret having gone on break with just one scored goal. As for Flora, they seem to be waiting for their chance on the counter.
The second half started somewhat calmer than the first one. Coach Norbert Hurt made one change, with Baranov being replaced by Kevin Aloe. Kristal kept the same squad that started the match. The first exciting moments, however, came after the 60 minute, when Sander Post took over for Logua, which meant that Prosa was moved to the left flank and the giant Post stood alone as a central forward. In the 65th minute Alliku made a nice pass to Post who shot from 15 meters, but his shot was blocked. However, the ball came to Prosa whose shot was miraculously saved by Smishko bringing a new corner for the away team. It was again Luigend who sent a curling ball in the box, Post with the header, but again his shot was cleared from the line. In the 67th minute Prosa with an excellent pass to Alliku who got free of his defender, sent a great low shot towards the goal but another classy save by Smishko denied the guests their, at that time, well deserved lead. Between 71st and 75th minute, Flora had few more chances, but they were unable to beat Smishko for the second time. After this, Levadia managed to establish balance on the field and slowly brought the game to an end. Mixed feelings for both teams who thought they deserved the win more than their opponents. For the neutral spectators, 1-1 may seem a fair result in what was a typical derby game full of chances and exciting moments.
After the match, RdS caught up with one of the most standard performers from Flora, Zakaria Beglarishvili. Asked about the impressions from the game, the Georgian international said: “both teams played very good game and I believe 1-1 is a fair result, even though I think that Flora should have won this match. However, Levadia is a very good team and we can be satisfied with this result.” To the question what comes after the defeat from Infonet and the draw with Levadia, the always optimistic attacker said “the next game is definitely a win, I guarantee you 100%”.