- 2 points in 2 games for the Champions losing ground to the city rivals
- Narva Trans confirmed their week 1 sensation and showed good things in Tallinns
- ‘Debut’ in Premium Liiga for international Sergei Pareiko
Sunny Saturday afternoon at the Sportland Arena welcomes the spring in Estonia as Levadia hosted Trans from the very east of the country. After the goalless draw against Infonet in matchday 1, the fans and everyone in Levadia’s team would expect a quick response from the reigning champions, however Narva may prove to be much tougher opponent than they expected. But, let’s go minute by minute.
Coach Marko Kristal made a few changes and most importantly, went back to his 4-4-2 formation with Pareiko on goal, Rakhmanov and Pecha in central defense, Dmitri Kruglov was deployed on the left full-back position and Laitinen on the right. Antonov and Raudsepp (used as KTM, or home-grown player - for more information read here) were operating in the center of the park, Omar was moved to the right wing, Luts on the left, and Saag played alongside Teever in the front line.
Alexei Yagudin on the other side, made only one change to the team that beat Pärnu in matchday 1. That means Smiško was on the goal, Nesterovski and Jahhimovitš in central defense, Avdejev on the right-full back position and Tamberg on the left. Protasov and Kaljumäe were deployed in central midfield, Kilikevych on the right wing, Andrejev on the left and Zils played behind Škinjov in the front line.
The match started with a rather unexpected tempo set by Narva who pressed higher trying to score early on. Despite the control they had, they didn’t manage to create any serious chance to test Pareiko more seriously in his debut in Levadia’s green jersey. On the contrary, it was the home team that scored from their first proper attack. Laitinen nicely centered the ball from the right side in the box where Luts waited on the second post to head it straight into Smiško’s goal. 1-0 for the reigning champions in the 15th minute through what was practically their first attack. In the 20th minute very good chance for the visitors, but Pareiko was well positioned to save Andrejev’s header. In the following 20 minutes both teams tried to establish control in the center of the park without any chances to score. The final chance of the first half came in the 42nd minute when Zils came 1-on-1 against Pareiko, but inexplicably shot the ball poorly out of bounds. Soon after that, referee Tarajev blew the whistle to end the first half.
Tough game for both sides in which the back-to-back champions used their experience to take the lead and to keep hold of it.
The second half started again with pressure from Narva to equalize the score, but Levadia’s defense was closing very well. On the other side, the attack of the champions looked anemic, without any desire or possibility to extend their lead. In the 70th minute, shock for the hosts. Vitalijs Zils again comes one on one with Pareiko and even though the national team goalkeeper managed to save the first attempt, Pecha failed to cover on time and the Latvian attacker tipped the ball into the net. Disbelief and anger on Levadia’s bench as they failed to keep the lead. Kristal’s response to this was introducing Rättel and try to push forward with three attackers. In the 83rd minute Smiško didn’t want to risk anything and punched the ball into corner, which was safely cleared. In the 88th minute massive chance for Antonov, but his bomb from 25m hit the post from the outside and went out. In the 91st minute matchball for Narva. After Zils made his way into the box, passed towards the center, but Fjodorov’s shot went inches wide. At the end of the 94th minute Tarajev finally blew the whistle for a disappointing 1-1 for the hosts and smiles on the faces of the guests from Narva.
Kristal will definitely have to work on the offense as his team managed to score only 1 goal in 180 minutes. Narva seems to be on the right track, gathering 4 points from the opening 2 games.
RdS Man of the Match: Vitalijs Zils
By Deni Delev