The football season ended in style, with FC Levadia needing a win on the last day to cement the title, and beat Narva Trans 8-1. The football scene threatened to become a two-county affair, with teams from only Tallinn and Ida-Viru County taking part in the top league, with Tartu thrown in, but the 2015 season will feature promoted sides from Viljandi and Pärnu.
How the medals were divided
The last day could have ended very differently with FC Flora lurking in Levadia's shadows, only two points behind. Had Flora won and Levadia lost, Flora would have walked away with its 10th title, but Levadia took the initiative against Narva from the first minute and did not look back. Flora crumbled under pressure, losing to Sillamäe Kalev 3-2. To make matters much worse, Sillamäe climbed above them ans stole the silver medal.
So the finish ended up being Levadia, gold; Sillamäe; silver; and Flora, bronze. It could have easily been Flora-Levadia-Kalju.
Levadia striker Ingemar Teever summed the season, saying they were simply better than the competition. “We were able to win the big decisive games.”
Levadia now has nine titles, on par with Flora, who has 20 medals from 24 seasons. Levadia now has 14 medals from 16 seasons. More remarkable than the trophy cabinet of Levadia is that of its head coach Marko Kristal, who won the title seven times as a player with Flora, twice as an assistant coach with Levadia and now the second with Levadia as head coach.
Flora head coach Norbert Hurt said his team matured (fourth last year) but failed in the big games, most notably of course, in the last game of the season.
1) It was a roller-coaster season for Sillamäe, who was top of the table at the end of March, but quickly fell to fifth by summer. The team bounced back during the second half of the season and could have made a challenge for the title. The turning point came against Levadia, who they had defeated 3-0 earlier in the season.
Levadia took charge of the match, in mid-September, scoring on the 41st minute. A draw would have been enough for Sillamäe to stay in contention and the chance duly arrived on the 72nd minute, but league top scorer Jevgeni Kabajev missed the penalty and Levadia pulled away.
2) Kalju, champions in 2012 and second last year, gave up the title fight already at the beginning of October. In a game against Levadia on October 4, Levadia committed a foul in its own box, resulting in a red card and a penalty kick, which Kalju scored. Levadia's coach was also sent to the stands. But Levadia fought back, scoring, taking the lead, scoring an own goal to level the game and then winning the game on the 91st minute.
3) Flora led the charge against Levadia's dominance, but it too crumbled under pressure. The home game against Levadia on October 18, four games before the end of the season, was a must-win. Flora took the lead at the very end of the first half but Levadia again fought back and won 2-1, putting Levadia five points ahead in the table.
The best result
The best result came off the field, but not too far. The low spectator numbers is seen as one of the biggest problems in Estonian football. The numbers this year continued the double-figure annual growth with Flora especially doing well.
A total of 45,984 people turned up to watch a top league match this season, 18.6 percent more than during 2013. Big strides were also made in live coverages, with various media organizations showing 116 of the 180 games live.
Flora attracted over 13,000 spectators, 766 on average per game. Kalju was second with 442 per game, followed by Tartu Tammeka (313) and Levadia (258).
The best goal
ERR, including ERR News readers, voted Rauno Tutk's power drive against Flora the best goal of the season. Watch that goal (from 3:52 in the video) and all the top goals here (starting at 0:55).
The bottom of the table
Tallinna Kalev began and ended the season at the bottom, collecting only three wins and three draws from 36 games and allowing 146 goals.
Jõhvi Lokomotiv's debut season in the top flight also came to an abrupt end. It lost on the away-goal rule against Viljandi Tulevik in the playoffs between the second worst of the top league and the second best in the second league. Viljandi came fifth in the second tier, but since Flora II (1st ) Levadia II (2nd ) and Kalju II (4th ) are top league team reserve sides, Viljandi made the playoffs.
36 – Jevgeni Kabajev (Sillamäe)
32 – Igor Subbotin (Levadia) – including four in the last match
30 – Kouakou Fabrice Elysee Kouadio (FC Infonet) - 38 percent of the
22 – Albert Prosa (Flora)
21 – Hidetoshi Wakui (Kalju)
642 – total goals scored (510 last year), the best result since 2007
3 red cards – Mindaugas Bagužis (Sillamäe)
3 red cards – Alo Bärengrub (Kalju)
11 yellow cards – Jegor Potapov (Lokomotiv)
9 red and 91 yellow – Lokomotiv
8 red and 67 yellow – Sillamäe
highest scoring match:
Infonet 10-1 Lokomotiv
2,610 – Flora vs. Kalju
24 – Roman Smiško (Levadia)
21 – Vitali Teleš (Kalju)
The final standings can be found here.
ERR covered 67 league and cup games this season, for 5days' worth of continuous football, click here.