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.

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