Lexical UnitsScenesConcept HierarchiesSound ExamplesParallel Texts

Estonia enjoy winning beginning

Wednesday, 18 August 2004

By Margus Luik at the Rheinpark stadium

[1] Estonia made a winning start to their Group 3 qualifying campaign for the 2006 FIFA World Cup as goals from Kristen Viikmäe and Joel Lindpere earned a 2-1 success against Liechtenstein.

Injury problems

[2] With UEFA EURO 2004™ runners-up Portugal joining fellow finalists Russia and Latvia in the group and Slovakia and Luxembourg making up the section, both sides knew the importance of a positive start here. However, Arno Pijpers' team were hampered by the absence of first-choice goalkeepers Mart Poom and Martin Koolma while FC Torpedo Moskva defender Andrei Stepanov was ruled out having broken a bone in his foot in training before the match.

Early chance

[3] Nevertheless, it was Estonia who began the better, Viikmäe's third-minute cross causing problems for Martin Heeb but the Liechtenstein goalkeeper recovered well from his initial error to block Vjatšeslav Zahovaiko's shot.

Debut action

[4] Zahovaiko had another chance minutes later, shooting wide from Teet Allas's pass, but it was not all one-way traffic as Thomas Beck forced Artur Kotenko, making his debut in the Estonia goal, to save in the 21st minute.

Significant spell

[5] The turning point of the match arrived in the 24th minute as Liechtenstein central defender Christof Ritter was dismissed for a professional foul on Viikmäe. Estonia duly capitalised on their numerical advantage eleven minutes before the interval, centre-back Raio Piiroja bursting forward and beating three defenders in a 60-metre run before threading through a pass to Viikmäe, who stretched to prod in.

Opportunist finish

[6] Just three minutes into the second half the home side were level as Kotenko decided against punching a cross, opting instead to try to collect it. However, he fumbled the ball and Fabio D'Elia was quick to capitalise, rolling the ball into an empty net.

Late winner

[7] Both sides tried hard to find a winner, Allas shooting just wide from 30 metres, while at the other end Thomas Beck's low shot from 20 metres forced Kotenko into a routine save. The winning goal did arrive ten minutes from time, and it was Viikmae who was the instigator, charging down an attempted clearance from Liechtenstein left-back Michael Stocklasa before drawing the goalkeeper and unselfishly squaring for Lindpere to roll in.

Second red card

[8] Home hopes were finally extinguished a minute into added time as midfield player Andreas Gerster fouled Lindpere and collected his second yellow card, having been booked for the first time three minutes earlier. With Slovakia defeating Luxembourg 3-1 in tonight's other game, Estonia next meet Luxembourg on 4 September while Liechtenstein visit Slovakia four days later.

Kristen Viikmäe opened the scoring