Monday, 25 July 2011

Meistriliiga week 21: Still tight at the top

Kuressaare 0-2 JK Kalju

Nõmme Kalju kept in touch at the top of the table with a 2-0 win away at Kuressaare in the early kick off on Saturday. Two goals midway through the second half gave them the points - Kim Kallaste scoring from the penalty spot on the hour following a foul on Tarmo Neemelo. Kristen Viikmäe made it two six minutes later with a glancing header, his ninth goal of the season. Flora ensured their lead at the top wasn't reduced with a 4-1 win away at Paide, though the scoreline makes it sound far more comfortable that it was with the scores level at 1-1 with five minutes left. Nikolai Mositsev put Flora ahead on 11 minutes but Paide drew level through Rauno Kööp on 68 minutes. Paide looked to have gained a very good point until late goals from Alo Dupikov (2) and Sergei Moskinov won it for Flora. Flora retain their two point lead with two games in hand. 

FC Ajax 0-4 Viljandi

Viljandi scored their biggest win of the season with a 4-0 demolition of FC Ajax in Lasnamäe, Tallinn. Defender Marten Mütt opened the scoring with a great left foot strike on 15 minutes. A diving header from Jann Leimann doubled the lead on 59 minutes before late goals from Stanislav Goldberg and a Jevgeni Romanov own goal wrapped it up.

Levadia and Trans shared a 1-1 draw, a result that doesn't help either side as they look to maintain title bids. Vitali Leitan scored his eleventh goal of the season to put Levadia ahead on 62 minutes. A Marius Bezykornovas penalty in the 75th minute gave Trans a point.  Sillamäe thrashed Tammeka 5-1 with the goals coming from their Russian trio of Alexander Nikulin (3), Igor Dudarev and Sergei Mironov. Tammeka's consolation came from Martin Haljak late on.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Levadia and Flora both out of Europe

Flora and Levadia both went out of European qualifying this week following 0-1 aggregate defeats. Flora and Shamrock Rovers ended goalless on Tuesday night meaning Shamrock progressed after their first leg victory in Champions League qualifying. Shamrock go on to face FC Copenhagen. It was a game of few chances and Flora did not have the cutting edge required to make it through - brief highlights of the game are available at ERR Sport

Levadia suffered an embarrassing 0-1 defeat to Differdange 03, part timers from Luxembourg, at the A.Le Coq Arena. A goalless first leg left Levadia as favourites to progress, but Philippe Lebresne's 32nd minute goal on Thursday night was enough to put Differdange through to face Olympiacos Volou of Greece. Levadia pushed hard, managing nine shots on target compared to Differdange's one, but were unable to break through a disciplined defence. Levadia coach Alexander Pustov was philosophical about the result: "I think the team did all they could. This is football - the favourite doesn't always win." Pustov was also asked about his position at the club: "As far as my future is concerned, that is a decision purely for the club board."

These results mean that all four Meistriliiga sides (Flora, Levadia, JK Kalju and Trans) have all gone out of European qualifying at the first hurdle.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Meistriliiga week 20: Levadia and Kalju gain ground

Trans 1-1 Flora

The big game of the weekend saw first meet second as Flora travelled to Narva. Flora rested Henri Anier, Sergei Moskinov and Alo Dupikov ahead of the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against Shamrock Rovers in midweek. The first half was full of half chances but ended goalless. Henri Anier gave Flora the lead on 48 minutes, glancing a header home from close range following a defensive mix up in the Trans back line. Trans equalised in the 78th minute through substitute Maksim Gruznov's perfectly placed shot from the edge of the box. It finished 1-1, a result that gave both Levadia and JK Kalju the chance to close the gap.

Other Meistriliiga goals

And close the gap they did, as both Kalju and Levadia picked up three points. Kalju's was a comfortable 3-0 win at home to FC Ajax, the goals coming from Oliver Konsa just before half time and two from Kristen Viikmae in the last 20 minutes. Viikmae's second, a measured lob, is worth a watch. Levadia's win against  Sillamäe was less straighforward, despite finding themselves a goal ahead on three minutes through Vitali Leitan. They were then 2-1 up on ten minutes as Sergei Vihrov equalised for Sillamäe before veteran defender Andrei Kalimullin put Levadia back in front from a corner. Kirill Novikov made the score 2-2 from close range on the stroke of half time but Leitan had the last word with an 84th winner to give Levadia a 3-2 win. 

Viljandi and Paide share the points in a 1-1 draw. Joel Indermitte opened the scoring for Viljandi after a scramble at a corner where the ball was deemed to have just crossed the line. Rauno Koop grabbed a point for Paide with a close range volley with ten minutes remaining. Tammeka had an unusually low scoring 1-0 win at home to Kuressaare, Alar Alve scoring a headed winner on 45 minutes following good work down the left wing from Kaarel Torop.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Flora lose narrowly in Dublin. Meistriliiga wins for Tammeka and Trans.

Shamrock Rovers take a narrow lead to Estonia next week after a 1-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier in Dublin last night. The Irish side dominated for long periods and scored the only goal of the game through Chris Turner in the 34th minute. It could have been different had Alan Mannus not easily saved Valeri Minkenen's penalty a minute earlier following a Ken Oman foul on Markus Jorgenson. But Flora will be happy to go back to Tallinn next Tuesday still very much in the tie. 

Recent signing Geir Andre Herrem made his debut for Flora coming on as a half time substitute. The 23 year old Norwegian striker joined at the weekend from SV Babelsberg in the German third division and has signed a contract until the end of the season. 

Viljandi 1-2 Tammeka

Tammeka scored a second win in four days with a 2-1 win in Viljandi. Karl Mool put Viljandi in front on 21 minutes, a cool finish after rounding the goalkeeper. Albert Prosa equalised for Tammeka shortly after half time and Heiko Tamm scored the winner in the 88th minute. Trans continued their prolific goalscoring streak with a 5-2 win in Sillamäe, coming back from 2-0 down at half time. The Trans goals came from Marius Bezykornovas (2), an Aleksandrs Cekulajevs penalty, Maksim Gruznov and Tomas Rimas. 

Monday, 11 July 2011

Meistriliiga week 19 - Tammeka leave it late in Lasnamäe

FC Ajax 0-3 Tammeka

Three late goals gave Tammeka a much needed 3-0 win against FC Ajax in a very wet Tallinn. Tammeka had a great opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty on the hour, but Heiko Tamm's penalty was saved by Aleksandr Boldorev low to his right. They were ahead on 73 minutes when Siim Roops headed home at the near post from a corner. It was two a minute later as Tamm made up for his penalty miss by tapping home after his initial shot had been saved by Boldorev. Marko Sonn finished the scoring on 80 minutes as he side footed home from six yards after wriggling free in the box.

Elsewhere, Levadia won 2-0 in Kuressaare but the points have been awarded to Kuressaare after Levadia fielded a suspended player, Albert Taar, who came on as a 76th minute substitute.

In Sunday's game, Nomme Kalju won 5-0 in Paide with a hattrick from Tarmo Neemelo and other goals from Kristen Viikmae and a Teet Allas own goal. The win puts Kalju back into second above Levadia. Both sides have gained ground on Flora who were playing in a friendly tournament featuring Wisla Krakow, Genk and Rapid Bucharest at the A.Le Coq Arena. Flora have games in hand though.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Meerits moves to Vitesse

Flora goalkeeper Marko Meerits has made the move to Vitesse Arnhem in the Dutch Eredivisie on a three year deal for an undisclosed fee. The 19 year old is likely to be back up for young Dutch goalkeeper Eloy Room but he is willing to work hard to earn the number one shirt. Vitesse narrowly avoided relegation from the Eredivisie last season and will be looking to improve next season. They are a club with a rich tradition and have had a number of prestigious managers in recent years including Leo Beenhakker, Ronald Koeman, Henk ten Cate, Frans Thijssen and Albert Ferrer.

Estonian goalkeeping legend and Flora's sporting director Mart Poom has backed the move, saying: "The deal with Vitesse shows Marko's talent and potential but also recognises his current level. He is still very young but if he continues to work and develop he may have bigger moves in the future." 

Meerits helped Flora to their first Meistriliiga title since 2003 last season and augmented that with a Superkarika and Estonian Cup. 

Friday, 8 July 2011

Europa League qualifying: Trans and Kalju go out

Nomme Kalju 0-2 FC Honka

Both Nomme Kalju and Narva Trans crashed out of the Europa League in the first qualifying round. Kalju lost 2-0 to Honka at the A.Le Coq Arena after a goalless first leg in Espoo, Finland. Second half goals from Honka's African contingent Demba Savage (Gambia) and Dudu (Nigeria) saw the Finnish side through to face Häcken of Sweden in the next qualifying round. Trans had an almost vertical task to overturn a 4-1 first leg deficit against Rabotnicki in Skopje, Macedonia. A 3-0 defeat on the night gave a 7-1 aggregate score and sees the Macedonian side progress to face AC Juvenes/Dogana of San Marino. Levadia are straight in at the second qualifying round and face FC Differdange of Luxembourg with the first leg this Thursday 14th July.

Trans 1-4 Rabotnicki (1st leg)

Monday, 4 July 2011

Meistriliiga week 18 - Goals galore

Flora 3-3 Nomme Kalju

A dramatic second half ended with Kalju grabbing a point against Flora at the A.Le Coq Arena. After a goalless first half, Flora looked to have taken control of the match with two goals early in the second half. First, Henri Anier latched onto a long ball to finish expertly with his left foot. Two minutes later, Finnish midfielder Valeri Minkenen scored an excellent 25 yard free kick and Flora looked to be on their way to a comfortable win. Two in three minutes brought Kalju back into it - Alan Garcia Gutierrez curled a beautiful free kick of his own into the top corner on 67 minutes, before Tarmo Neemelo headed home from six yards to make it 2-2. Gutierrez was involved in Flora's third on 85 minutes, missing an opportunity to clear a left wing cross only for Alo Dupikov to tap home. As the game reached injury time, there was still time for further drama. Flora goalkeeper Marko Meerits was penalised for taking longer than six seconds with the ball and an indirect free kick was awarded. Flora dealt with the initial shot but in the resulting chaos Georgian Zakaria Beglarishvili raised a foot and a Kalju penalty was awarded, perhaps harshly. Juri Jevdokimov 
coolly scored with the last kick of the game to make it 3-3. Great second half. 

Trans 5-0 Viljandi

Trans put Viljandi to the sword in a 5-0 win in Narva. Aleksandrs Cekulajevs scored two in the first half (one penalty) to take his tally to for the season to 20. Sergei Leontovits also got a brace, his second an excellent strike from the edge of the box. Vladislav Fjodorov got the fifth. Levadia barely broke sweat in their 4-1 win at FC Ajax Lasnamae. Vitali Leitan scored a hattrick for Levadia with Valerijus Mizigurskis getting the other. FC Ajax's consolation was a Sergei Tasso penalty late on.

Paide 2-2 Tammeka

Paide came from two goals down to rescue a point at home to Tammeka. Alar Alve gave Tammeka the lead in the 16th minute following a scramble after a corner. Martin Haljak increased Tammeka's lead midway through the second half with a close range header, but Paide dug deep pulling one back through Tiik Tikenberg and equalising with five minutes to go - Rene Puhke finishing well at the back post after a long ball was flicked on.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Europa League Qualifying: mixed results for Trans and Kalju

FC Honka 0-0 Nomme Kalju

Nomme Kalju came away from Espoo, Finland with a hard earned 0-0 draw against FC Honka. The Kalju goal lived a charmed life at times and some profligate finishing could cost Honka when they travel to Tallinn for the second leg. Trans are looking down and out after a 1-4 defeat at home to Rabotnicki of Skopje, Macedonia. Anton Epikhin had equalised Rabotnicki's opener in the first half, but three second half goals have put the Macedonian team in a commanding position in the tie.

The second legs are Thursday 7th July.