Wednesday 3 October 2012

Kalju edging closer to first title

Goals from week 31 - Saturday 29th September

Kalju have moved into a seemingly unassailable lead at the top of the Meistriliiga, leading second placed Flora by 11 points as they close in on their first Meistriliiga title. Recent thumpings they have handed out to Viljandi (9-1) and Kuressaare (6-1) have helped as Levadia have stumbled with a defeat at home to Sillamäe and Flora have had too much ground to make up following their slow start to the season. Kalju's Tarmo Neemelo had a field day at Viljandi last night with five goals in that 9-1 win and moved to the top of the scoring charts with 20.

Levadia did win the derby against Flora at the weekend with two first half goals from Ingemar Teever (highlights below). Sillamäe have been in great form with four straight wins and look to have secured a European place by finishing fourth. They have been boosted by the arrival of Estonian international Slava Zahovaiko and the recent good form of Aleksandr Bebikh. 

Kalju could win the title this weekend if they win against Trans and Narva and Flora fail to win against Tallinna Kalev. Either way, it doesn't seem as though it will be long before they're confirmed as Meistriliiga champions. At the other end, while Tammeka did manage a 4-0 win over Viljandi at the weekend, they'll need at least two more wins to have any hope of avoiding relegation and, with a crunch game at home to Kuressaare this weekend, it may not be beyond the realms of possibility.

Flora 1-2 Levadia - Saturday 29th September

Goals from week 30 - Saturday 22nd September

Goals from week 29 - Tuesday 18th September

Monday 17 September 2012

Meistriliiga week 27: Kalju on the brink

Levadia 0-1 Kalju - Saturday 15th September

Kalju took a giant leap towards their first Meistriliiga title with a 1-0 win over Levadia at the Kadrioru Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Once again it was a long throw that undid Levadia, as it had done for Juri Jevdokimov's late equaliser when the sides met two weeks ago. This time it was a throw from Tanel Melts in the 84th minute that was flicked on by Tarmo Neemelo and not dealt with by the Levadia defence. The ball fell to Jevdokimov again who tried to do something with it, but failed, but an alert Sergei Terehhov turned and fired home from 12 yards. Cue jubilant scenes as the Kalju bench and players greeted the final whistle as if they had won the title.

The game had been tense with Kalju probably having the better of the chances. Neemelo missed a good headed opportunity at the back post from Damiano Quinteri's left wing cross and an Eino Puri header from a corner was well saved by Priit Pikker in the Levadia goal. Ingemar Teever had Levadia's best chance, but headed wide from seven yards having found room between two defenders. The two sides meet again in the fourth round of the Evald Tipner Cup on 25th September and Levadia coach Marko Kristal is now focused on winning that match. 

Levadia have even fallen back to third following Flora's 4-0 win over Sillamäe at the A.Le Coq Arena. Vjatšeslav Zahovaiko made his return to Flora, for whom he scored over 100 goals, having signed a short term deal with Sillamäe following unsuccessful spells in Portugal, Hungary and Finland. He was the Meistriliiga's top scorer in 2004. Flora were 3-0 up before half time thanks to two goals from Markus Jürgenson and one from Rauno Alliku. Siim Luts added a fourth late on. 

Viljandi 2-1 Tallinna Kalev - Saturday 15th September

Tallinna Kalev are in freefall as they lost again, this time at Viljandi. Kalev had taken the lead midway through the first half with a well taken goal from Rejal Alijev. Viljandi were level before half time when Jaan Leimann was taken out in the penalty area by Mart Kaljuste in the Kalev goal on 40 minutes - Kaljuste was a little lucky to get away with just a booking. Eron Krillo tucked the penalty away with aplomb. And Leimann put Viljandi ahead just after the break running onto a chipped ball behind the Kalev defence and rounding Kaljuste to finish. There was still time for Kalev's Risto Kägo to get sent off for a second booking for what could be best described as a 'mistimed tackle' and at worst could be described as a 'leg breaker'. But it was an important win for Viljandi as they now have a six point gap back to Kalev who sit in the relegation play off place.

Tammeka produced the upset of the day by beating Trans 2-1 in Tartu. They raced into a 2-0 lead with early goals from Heiko Tamm and Rauno Tutk in the first 12 minutes. Trans halved that lead two minutes later when Vladislav Ivanov tapped home Vitali Gussev's cut back, but Tammeka held on for only their second win of the campaign. They still sit bottom of the table, seven points adrift of Tallinna Kalev. An injury time equaliser Märten Pajunurm gave Kuressaare a valuable point at home to Paide who had led through Mihail Ištšuk's 70th minute strike. Paide still sit comfortably in sixth place.

There's a full fixture list tomorrow evening:

Sillamäe v Tammeka
Trans v Levadia
Kalju v Kuressaare
Paide v Tallinna Kalev
Flora v Viljandi

Monday 3 September 2012

Kalju 2-2 Levadia - Kalju's title to lose

Kalju 2-2 Levadia - Saturday 1st September

Levadia came into Saturday's crunch game with top of the table Kalju on the back of their first defeat of the Meistriliiga season, a 0-2 loss at home to Trans last Tuesday, while Kalju had hammered Kuressaare 9-0 in Saaremaa with the returning Tarmo Neemelo hitting a hat trick. Not ideal preparation for Marko Kristal's team but they took the lead in the 15th minute at the Kadrioru as Albert Taar tapped home Artur Rättel's dragged shot from close range. Kalju captain Alo Bärengrub appealed for offside but had played Taar onside when the initial shot was hit. A great start for Levadia as they needed the win to cut Kalju's lead at the top to one point, though Kalju have two games in hand.

Levadia held the lead until shortly after the hour mark when Artjom Artjunin brought down Damiano Quinteri on the edge of the penalty area, a challenge for which Artjunin was booked. Andres Koogas stepped up to curl home the free kick, wrong footing Levadia goalkeeper Roman Smiško by avoiding the wall. Levadia regained their lead in the 79th minute when a lovely touch from former Kalju striker Ingemar Teever played in Igor Subbotin to fire home. There were again screams of offside from the Kalju defence but Subbotin had clearly been played onside by Tihhon Šišov - the defensive line might be something for Kalju not work on in training this week. 

There was late drama though as Kalju piled on the pressure in the closing stages. A long throw in from Oliver Konsa was allowed to bounce in the Levadia penalty area and Kristen Viikmäe, a second half substitute, darted in at the back post to head home to make it 2-2. Some real schoolboy defending from Levadia as Kristal trudged off with a face like thunder at the final whistle. Artur Rättel was last seen face down on the pitch shortly after the end of the match. Kalju coach Igor Prins was clearly happier than Kristal with the result: "The game was tense and it did not look good at 1-2 but we showed our character in coming from behind twice. We are obviously the happier with the result". Kristal bemoaned his team's defending: "Players have to take responsibility, you cannot let the ball bounce in the penalty area". And he's right. 

The two sides meet again at the Kadrioru on Saturday 15th September where Levadia must get a win to keep their faint title hopes alive. 

Some of the goals from last Tuesday's matches are here:

Meistriliiga round 26 goals

Trans are continuing their pursuit of fourth place having beaten Levadia on Tuesday, they followed up with a 4-0 at home to Tammeka on Saturday. They now sit just one point behind Ida-Viru rivals Sillamäe with two games in hand. Paide continue to look comfortable in sixth and Kuressaare need something from their games in hand to get themselves out of the ninth place relegation playoff spot. (Poor) Tammeka continue to look doomed with just one win all season.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Levadia 5-4 Flora

Levadia 5-4 Flora

Levadia kept their title hopes alive with a momentous win in a ridiculous match at the Kadrioru Staadion on Monday night. Flora came into the match in third place knowing that only a win would realistically keep their slim title hopes alive as Levadia and Kalju had were creeping further away at the top of the table. A crowd of 2150 saw the daft encounter. 

It was Levadia who struck first in the fourth minute as Ingemar Teever finished from close range following a long throw that really should have been dealt with by the Flora defence. However, Flora were back on level terms in the eighth minute when a good move down the right involving Zakaria Beglarišvili and Gert Kams was tapped home by Valeri Minkenen for his seventh goal of the season. Then, shortly before half time, an inexplicable handball from Flora defender Markus Jürgenson gifted Levadia a penalty, which captain Igor Morozov duly coverted to restore Levadia's lead. The second half wasn't a minute old when referee Kristo Tohver was pointing to the Flora penalty spot again, this time for a mistimed tackle by Nikita Baranov on Levadia's Albert Taar. Morozov again dispatched the penalty with ease to make it 3-1.

And it was 4-1 just after the hour when Taar won the ball in midfield and was allowed far too much time to fire home from 22 yards - a great strike though. Flora had some hope restored three minutes later when Beglarišvili curled home a lovely left footed shot from inside the penalty area. There was further hope in the 77th minute when Beglarišvili again fired home, this time from the edge of the box to make it 4-3. Flora's tails were up and Gert Kams completed an unlikely comeback hitting home after Roman Smiško in the Levadia goal had saved an initial header. The crashmat behind the goal proved a handy meeting point for the post-goal celebrations. 

But there was one final twist as the game went deep into injury time. As Flora were seconds away from a memorable point, they conceded possession near the edge of their penalty area and the ball was slipped through to Igor Subbotin. As he was about to shoot, what looked to be a great challenge came in from Karol Mets putting the ball out for a corner. Referee Tohver had other ideas and awarded a penalty to Levadia. Angry Flora players surrounded Tohver as he went over to consult with his assistant - the penalty stood and to add insult to injury, Mets was sent off for the challenge. There was still a penalty to be taken and Morozov completed his hat trick in the sixth minute of injury time with the final whistle blowing as soon as the ball hit the back of the net. 

Flora players continued to confront Tohver following the final whistle and Gert Kams could find himself in trouble for laying hands on the referee and then getting into a heated dispute with the Levadia physio who was on the pitch tending to Subbotin following the award of the penalty. Football can be a cruel mistress.

Elsewhere, Trans won 1-0 at Tallinna Kalev in an altogether less exciting match. Aleksandr Dubokin with the only goal of the game midway through the second half. 

Levadia travel to Sillamäe this weekend with Kalju not playing. Flora host bottom of the table Tammeka.

Monday 20 August 2012

Meistriliiga August catch up

I have once again been pretty slack in keeping up to date with events in the Meistriliiga over the past few weeks - I guess this is what happens when the powers that be very selfishly schedule a number of sporting events during the same summer. They just don't think about the part time blogger covering the least popular league in Europe. As I say, selfish. Anyway, below are most of the goals from the past few weeks. 

Goals from week 22 (Saturday 4th August)

Goals from week 23 (Saturday 11th August)

'Highlights' from Viljandi 0-0 Tammeka (Sat 18th August)

Kalju have kept themselves ahead at the top of the table with three wins and three clean sheets against Trans, Viljandi and Paide while Levadia, who remain the only unbeaten team in the league, have gone goal crazy of late winning 7-0 against Kuressaare, 5-0 at Viljandi and 3-0 at Tammeka. Rimo Hunt and Albert Taar in particular have hit purple patches scoring eight goals between them in their last three games. Artur Pikk's free kick against Viljandi is also worth a watch. Levadia face third placed Flora at the Kadrioru tonight as they look to close the gap on Kalju to two points. Flora have drifted off the pace and a draw at Tallinna Kalev didn't help their cause. 

Preview of tonight's match is available on the EJL website

Tammeka are looking doomed at the bottom of the table having won just one game all season, though there looks to be a three way battle to avoid the relegation play off place for finishing ninth. Kuressaare currently occupy that spot but have games in hand on Viljandi and Tallinna Kalev above them.

The Estonian national team also fitted in a friendly against Poland last week, grabbing a good 1-0 win thanks for an injury time free kick from Konstantin Vassiljev. The starting line up featured three Meistriliiga players, defenders Igor Morozov, Tihhon Šišov and Alo Bärengrub who all completed 90 minutes.

Estonia 1-0 Poland (Wednesday 15th August)

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Meistriliiga week 20: Kalju 2-0 Flora and other matches

Kalju 2-0 Flora

Kalju put a huge dent in Flora's title ambitions with a 2-0 win at the Kadrioru on Saturday - the win puts Kalju seven points clear of Flora having played nineteen matches each. In a rain soaked Tallinn, Eino Puri put Kalju ahead from close range near to half time after Flora failed to deal with Sergei Terehhov's hopeful free kick. Flora were again architects of their own downfall for Kalju's second just after the hour as they gave the ball away due to some good pressing high up the pitch from Kalju. The ball eventually fell to Yankuba Ceesay who exchanged a neat one-two on the edge of the box with Juri Jevdokimov and lashed the ball home sparking jubilant scenes among the Kalju players and fans. Flora coach Martin Reim was unhappy at his side conceding a goal shortly before half time: "We gifted them a goal. It changed the course of the game and we had to attack, which in turn creates holes and mistakes in defence." Reim also made reference to their tough game against Basel in Champions League qualifying the previous Tuesday that affected Flora's energy levels. The result leaves Flora off the pace in their bid for a hat trick of Meistriliiga titles - the two sides meet again on the penultimate day of the season (27th October). 

Viljandi 6-0 Kuressaare

Towards the foot of the table, Viljandi hit Kuressaare for six. They were helped greatly by the early dismissal of Kuressaare's goalkeeper Mihhail Lavrentjev for preventing a goalscoring opportunity, hauling down the Viljandi player as he looked to round him. Substitute goalkeeper Riido Reiman came on, replacing Tauno Laja, and his first job was to face Eron Krillo's penalty - but he couldn't stop the low penalty into the bottom corner. Taavi Laurits doubled the lead five minutes later with a precise right footed finish from inside the penalty area and Joel Indermitte had made it 3-0 from a corner before half time. Laurits scored his second on 67 minutes and Marten Mütt added two late on as the Kuressaare players were out on their feet. A big win for Viljandi which takes them above Kuressaare into eighth place in the Meistriliiga table as both sides look to avoid finishing in ninth, a position that brings with it a relegation/promotion play-off with the second placed Esiliiga team. 

And the Viljandi players were delighted with the result, as you'll see from the video below. Sadly, they stopped short of soaking their coach with champagne:

Viljandi players celebrate their win

Tallinna Kalev 0-6 Levadia

Monday night saw Tallinna Kalev host Levadia at Kalevi Keskstaadion. Goals in the first twenty minutes from Janar Toomet and Artur Rättel set up a comfortable evening for Levadia as they cruised to a 6-0 win and moved back above Flora into second place. Rättel completed a hat trick in the second half and further goals from Marek Kaljumäe and Ingemar Teever, a great free kick and his first goal in a Levadia shirt, made for an emphatic result. Kuressaare are next up for Levadia on Monday night as they look to keep the pressure on Kalju in top spot.

Trans 0-1 Sillamäe

Paide 4-1 Tammeka

In the weekend's other two matches, Sillamäe won the Ida-Viru derby with a late goal from Aleksandr Bebikh. And Paide drew level with fifth placed Trans following a 4-1 win over Tammeka - the goals came from Tiit Tikenberg (penalty), Lauri Varendi and Stanislav Goldberg (2) with Tammeka's reply coming from Alex Nimo. Not a good start for new Tammeka coach Joti Stamatopoulos as they are beginning to look beyond help in their battle against relegation. 

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Meistriliiga week 19: Kuressaare pick up valuable win

Kuressaare 2-1 Tallinna Kalev

Kuressaare notched up a very important win on Saturday in their bid to move away from relegation troubles. It was just their second win of the season (the first being the memorable win away to Flora) and puts three points between them and Viljandi in ninth - it also leaves them just three points off Tallinna Kalev in seventh while Kuressaare have three games in hand. It didn't start well for the islanders, as a monumental blunder from goalkeeper Mihhail Lavrentjev allowed Kalev's French striker Kassim Aidara to tap home. Kalev's lead lasted only a minute though as pint-sized midfielder Margus Rajaver equalised for Kuressaare with a shot across Stanislav Tokarev into the far corner. The winner, on 71 minutes, was a scrappy affair as Kalev failed to clear the ball following a left wing free kick. The ball eventually fell to Gregor Könninge after Tokarev had palmed a shot away, and the midfielder tapped home. 

With neither Flora or Levadia playing this weekend, Kalju had an opportunity to put distance between themselves and their Tallinn rivals as they faced bottom of the table Tammeka in Tartu. What sounded like a routine win was a little less so in reality as late goals gave Kalju a 4-1 win. Sergei Terehhov had given Kalju the lead midway through the first half, but they had to wait until the 78th minute for Hidetoshi Wakui to make things more comfortable. Even then, Tammeka's Mikk Valtna pulled one back with nine minutes remaining leaving Kalju edgy until further goals from Oliver Konsa and Siim Valtna (og) sealed the win. 

Sillamäe and Viljandi shared four goals, all coming in an action packed period just after half time. Vladislav Ivanov put Sillamäe ahead with his tenth goal of the season two minutes after the break, but Viljandi hit back to go 2-1 ahead after quickfire goals from Martin Tšegodajev and Taavi Laurits turned things around. Sillamäe's equaliser came from Aleksandr Volodin on 69 minutes to make it 2-2. A decent point for Viljandi but they will have been disappointed to see Kuressaare win above them.

Tonight sees Flora take on Basel in their Champions League qualifier, a game in which the Swiss team are heavy favourites. Flora then face Kalju on Saturday, a big match in the title race. Levadia play Tallinna Kalev on Monday night.