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.