Scorching afternoon at the Kadriorg Stadium in Tallinn and perfect conditions for a new derby that might determine the path of this year’s title race. After the unexpected draw of Kalju against Narva on Saturday, Flora has the chance to make even bigger gap on the top of the table, if they win, of course, while Levadia gets another chance to retain the second position and continue the chase for the title defense.
Coach Marko Kristal didn’t have many headaches considering the squad for this game as Rättel is the only long term injured player. In that sense, he decided to go with the standard XI. Smishko on the goal, Tipuric and Artjunin in central defense, Pikk and Podholjuzin on the full-back positions. Antonov and Raudsepp in the central midfield, Elhussieny and Subbotin as always on the flanks and Ivanov in pair with Teever in the front line.
Coach Norbert Hurt saw no reason to change the team that is on top of the table for most of the season now so as expected he fielded the following starting XI. Prins between the sticks, Rähn and Mets in front of him, Jurgenson and Baranov on the full-back positions. Lepistu and Luigend were responsible for the midfield, Alliku and Logua were deployed on the flanks while Beglarashvili played just behind Prosa.
As mentioned before, the sunny weather and the 32 degrees in Tallinn were great sign for a fine football and good turnout of fans at the Kadriorg stadium for the derby of matchday 22 (1720 people according to the official figures). The stakes were pretty high so even though both teams wanted the three points badly, it was expected to see a careful match without many chances on both sides. The match started in that fashion as neither of the teams managed to establish control and create any serious chances to break the deadlock. In this period Flora looked like the more concrete team as they were trying to exploit the good form of their wingers Alliku and Logua to create space down the flanks but without any serious danger towards Smishko’s goal. The first chance for the title defenders came in the 16th minute when Ivanov and Elhussieny played a nice one-two pass, but the former failed to materialise on that as his shot went well over the goal. As the first half progressed, Levadia players were trying to take over control in midfield and their next more serious chance came in the 30th minute when Jürgenson fouled Podholjuzin some 25 meters from the goal. Artjunin took the shot but it didn’t pass the wall. The heat and the importance of the match seemed to have taken their toll as none of the teams were able to press harder. In this period of the game Levadia was the better team on the field and their biggest chances came in the period of two minutes between the 37th and the 39th, but their central forwards Ivanov and Teever weren’t able to score past Stanislav Prins. On the other side Prosa had the biggest chance for the table leaders, but his header was saved by the bar. That was the end of the first 45 minutes. Competitive football at the Kadriorg stadium but the result remained 0-0.
Hurt might be satisfied with his team’s performance as they presented solid defense and dangerous counter attacks. Kristal will probably have a word with his attackers as they squandered two very good chances.
The second half couldn’t have started in a better fashion. In the 46th minute Elhussieny sent a nice curled ball in the box, Teever chested it towards Ivanov who didn’t give Prins any chance. 1-0 for Levadia and excitement on the stands. The match was opened and so was Flora’s defense. Few more chances for the title defenders followed but they were not able to convert them to goals. Then, in the 60th minute Beglarashvili received a ball at the edge of the box and was brought down by Toni Tipuric. It was enough for referee Tohver to show on the white spot. Jürgenson put the ball in position and shot towards the goalkeeper’s left. Smishko read it but was unable to prevent him from scoring. 1-1 and everything to play for at the Kadriorg stadium. A bit of a shock for the hosts but they kept on pressing, looking for that second goal that would bring them the lead and possibly the three points from this derby game. In the 62nd minute chance for Levadia similar to the one when they scored the opener. Elhussieny to Raudsepp who quickly passed to Ivanov, but the latter wasn’t able to emulate the situation from 46th minute. In the 70th minute excellent chance for Teever but another world-class save by Prins to keep the score leveled. In the 76th minute new chance for Levadia. Ivanov instead of passing the ball to Subbotin decided to shoot wide of the goal. In the 83rd minute Alliku made a solo breakthrough but managed only to hit the outside of the net. The biggest excitements came in the final minutes of extra time when Flora created an excellent counter-attack with Alliku passing to Beglarashvili, but the latter didn’t manage to pull out a dangerous shot. Smishko got the ball and went forward with it, passed nicely to Tipuric who created enough space for a shot, but the man of the match, Stanislav Prins pulled out another great save to keep the hopes for the title high in the air. On the rebound, Rohtla did not manage to reach the ball for an easy tap-in.
That marked the end of yet another “Tallinn Clasico” (the 82nd) in which the points were divided. Both teams had their chances but the final result seems good for Flora as they managed to keep the 4 point lead over Kalju and Levadia’s staff would definitely leave the field disappointed as they had more of the game and many squandered chances.