His face was in the Supercup poster.
A hint at the fact that he could have been one of the protagonists of this game.
He was ‘The Protagonist’.
Scoring a decisive goal on your second debut at the club you left two years earlier before getting into a difficult period, it is a dream comeback for anyone. No wonder why on 88' minutes, after blasting the ball past Roman Smiśko (2013 Best RdS Goalkeeper), Zakaria Beglarashvili went mental and pulled his shirt off while being celebrated but the entire Flora XI. This was the only goal of the game and it was enough for Flora to rise their 19th trophy.
However, we need to look back at the rest of the ninety minutes which certainly did not bring too many emotions to the 573 people packing the Sportland Arena on a rather warm (for this period) Tuesday night.
The first surprises came from the starting XI’s.
Kristal opted for Rättel to stay on the bench as Ivanov and Teever were given a start. The other face on the poster had to make go with watching the game from the dugout. ‘It was my choice according the last games played’ explained Marko Kristal upon being asked by RdS at the end of the game. The other surprise was Omar El-Husseiny’s name not entered into the squad list at all. It was not Kristal’s decision though: ‘he could have been in the starting XI however, we could not use him as the player’s transfer (from Egypt – A.P.) is still missing and we could not register him’ explained the 40-years-old coach looking rather disappointed at the bureaucratic setback that compelled him to use Raudsepp as left flanker.
On Flora side, Hurt had to give up to Nikita Baranov (still out since the injury picked up against FC Lahti a week ago) and Karol Mets. He solved the problems in defence by fielding the young Janar Õunap side by side with the veteran Taavi Rähn and moving Jürgenson to the right flank. Hurt stayed faithful to the 4-1-4-1, whereas Kristal opted for the usual 4-4-2 formation
LEVADIA'S SUPREMACY IN FIRST HALF
The first fifteen minutes of the game did not offer any emotion as both sides were on a studying phase. Most of the battles were fought down the touchline alongside the Arena's only stand.
The duo Aloe-Gussev engaged with Podholjuzin-Subbotin. When not in possession, Kaljumäe was helping the flank duo to block any initiative coming from that side and compelling Flora rear-guard to throw a long ball which was hardly playable by Prosa well controlled by Jahhimovitś.
The latter had troubles when the nr. 99 from Tartu dropped to collect the ball and quickly run towards Levadia’s last 20 meters. The Levadia nr.21 risked a yellow card when fouling Prosa from behind (11’) howeve referee Jaan Roos was generous in allowing the defender a bonus, a booking on early stage could have influenced the rest of his game. The first corner kick was Levadia's (9’) as the first chance on 16’ minutes when Teever received in the box and with a quick movement managed to free himself. The shot was a good attempt even though he hit the outside part of the net on Toom’s right post. On 20’ minutes Artjom Artjunin had to sprint with Prosa to avoid the latter running towards Smiśko. The effort was decisive as Prosa was compelled to recollect the ball when too many black jerseys already surrounded him. The attempt of freeing himself with several dragbacks ended up with losing the ball. On 21’ minutes Levadia earned a free-kick from the edge of the box. Kaljumäe took it while Artjunin was covering the view, a scheme implemented to disturb the goalkeeper and the last man forming the wall. It almost worked as the ball was about to curl past the wall when a foot gave it a deflection into corner.
On 23’ minutes Teever had another go at Mait Toom after winning a ball against Beglarashvili, too slow in clearing up in his half. However, the nr. 11's ballistic attempt had no consequence. After 30’ minutes of game, Flora were suffering as Levadia had risen the barycentre of the XI exerting increased pressure on the white-greens.
As against Brondby and Lahti, Flora had troubles in restarting their game when the oppositions are covering all the spaces.
On 26’ minutes, one of the best chances of Levadia. The Estonian Champions earned another free-kick close to the box. Artjunin on the take curled it towards the second post. Toom had to stretch himself to parry the shot.
In order to give an idea of Levadia overall supremacy in first half, they took their 6th corner kick on 34’ minutes.
On 38’ minutes Levadia had several chances to shoot within the box, however the Flora defence, pretty well led by Rähn, confidently walled all the three attempts in a row (Teever, Ivanov and Subbotin).
If the defence worked well in controlling Levadia’s ambitions, the offensive phase suffered quite a bit. On the right side Sappinen had few chances to shine as Pikk and Raudsepp were more devoted to a defensive work. On the left side Gussev was left alone as Aloe had few hesitations when pushing. The performance of the Flora’s nr.4 was not really convincing last night to say the least.
It would have taken forty minutes for Flora to shoot on target for the first time as Frolov exploited a favourable bounce to find himself almost free to aim at Smiśko’s goal. The shot was well curled, however too slow and found the Levadia captain ready to catch it without hassle.
On 41’ minutes it was Artur Pikk sprinting on Prosa to avoid the nr.99 running once and again against Smiśko coming out of the goal.
However, the best chance of the game, it was on 43’ minutes when Artjunin blast from free-kick hit the post for Levadia’s regret.
FLORA'S LATE WIN WHEN EXTRA TIME ALREADY LOOMED
On resume, neither Hurt nor Kristal brought in any substitutions.
A shiver down Flora’s fans ran on 48’ minutes when a free kick taken by Artjunin became an uncontrollable rocket bouncing in the box. Toom was very reactive and grabbed hold of the sphere with confidence.
On 55’ minutes, Hurt decided to send in Rauno Alliku to replace another Rauno, Sappinen. He was probably not doing worse than anyone else, however Hurt opted for another weapon of choice to hurt Levadia’s left hand side. His choice revealed right as the ‘curly haired devil’ managed to create a bit more troubles to Pikk and Raudsepp than ‘Sappi’.
On 61’ minutes Raudsepp showed why he is not an offensive player: upon receiving a great ball conquered by Antonov on a break, his shot was not well aimed and earned him just a corner kick.
There was an evident gap between the two XI’s when not in possession: while Levadia’s pressing was well orchestrated, Flora movements were slower and allowing Levadia to breath. Something still to work on for Norbert Hurt during the course of the season. On 66’ he brought in Logua for Gussev.
Logua, Beglarashvili, Alliku, Prosa: it was evident Hurt played the all-in to try and win the game as Flora had not beaten the city rivals for 10 official games in a row. The last win dated back to 2011 when Flora overcame Levadia 3-0 on Matchday 33. Since then, a long three-year streak collecting 8 losses and 2 draws against the Maarjamäe club.
On the other hand, Kristal did not seem keen to bring Rättel’s unpredictability earlier than 71’ minutes. The talented Levadia nr. 9 brought indeed more dangers to the Flora defence compelling Rähn&Co. to resort to fouling.
On 75’ minutes, after letting few hard challenges go, referee Jaan Roos booked Jürgenson for fouling Rättel. On the free kick, Toom was confident in the air until Subbotin fouled him with no apparent reason. It was another yellow card in less than a minute. On 78’ minutes Subbotin was again a negative protagonist as he missed a shot in the box poorly among the crowd disappointment.
Earlier (77’), Logua had a great run to the bottom line and served a perfect assist in the middle. Alliku was ready to head it in but Pikk managed to clear it before it could reach Flora’s nr. 9.
On 82’ minutes Teever squandered a chance as he headed a corner straight into Toom’s hands from close distance. On 85’ minutes Räätel shot from distance was abundantly over the bar. Two minutes later Hurt made Luigend breath to send in Brent Lepistu.
It was just a minute before Zacaria Beglarashvili left-footed ballistic feat outwitted Smiśko, unable to reach the ball nesting into the corner of the net after hitting the inside of the second post.
At that point Kristal tried everything to pull level and compel Flora to extra time: first he sent the young Rohtla in (a striker) to replace Artjunin (a defender); then he ordered Jahhimovits to move forward to tower on long balls. The defence was left with two man, Podholjuzin and Pikk playing as the only central defenders, in a desperate 2-3-5 for the final assault.
There was even time for Frolov collecting a red card (double booking) after fouling Śmisko about to throw the ball back into play. Beglarashvili put the seal to his ‘Man of The Match’ award by compelling the 199 cm shot stopper to outdo himself on another curled shot from distance.
After four minutes of injury time and the last ten minutes packed with most of the emotions seen during the game, referee Jaan Roos decreed it was enough for the Supercup 2014.
BEGLARASHVILI ENDS FLORA'S FASTING AGAINST LEVADIA
'It is great to come back to Flora and win a trophy immediately' declared Zacaria at the end of the game 'our team was good, cogratulations to everyone!' . A very religious Zacaria explained he thanked Jesus after the goal when pointing his fingers to the sky.
Kristal remarked the absence of El-Husseiny might have deprived Levadia's build-up of the necessary sharpness: 'very probable, in the preseason games he played very well. Obviously I don't know what would have been today, however it was planned to field him today. We hoped to receive the transfer at the last moment, however it did not come and I had to make other choices.'
Regarding Rättel, Kristal admitted he is a very dangerous player when on the field, however praised Raudsepp defensive work which helped limiting Sappinen initiatives, probably what he was looking for: 'we just missed scoring goals' concluded the Tallinn-born coach in his simple football philosophy.
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