Estonia Beats Slovenia 1-0 in Euro 2016 Qualifying Curtain Raiser
The national football team began its attempt to qualify for the Euro 2016 football tournament in Tallinn the perfect way, scoring on the 86th minute to take all three points.
Ats Purje, who scored the winning goal three years ago against Slovenia in the last qualifying tournament, passed the ball into an empty net on the 86th minute after three Estonian shot attempts bounced back.
Estonia again punched above its weight as many Estonian players play in the local league, and in lower leagues around Europe while Slovenian footballers play for such clubs as Internazionale and Fiorentina.
In terms of game play, the visitors dominated most of the match, although Estonia closed down attacks quickly, also attacking when possible. The Estonian team began to tire in the final 20 minutes until Dalibor Stevanović was sent off after receiving a second yellow on the 79th minute for a foul on Joel Lindpere. Estonia looked rejuvenated and finally found the net through substitute Purje, who came on the pitch just one minute before scoring.
Estonia had a number of chances after the goal, with Slovenia also creating dangerous chances, but the home side, in front of a 6,500-strong crowd in Tallinn, held on.
The two teams are likely to fight for the third spot in the group also containing England and Switzerland.
Tonight's line-up was: 1-Sergei Pareiko, 4-Igor Morozov, 5-Ken Kallaste, 15-Ragnar Klavan, 18-Karol Mets, 2-Joel Lindpere (7-Ats Purje), 13-Martin Vunk, 16-Ilja Antonov (20-Gert Kams), 23-Taijo Teniste (17-Enar Jääger), 8-Henri Anier, 10-Sergei Zenjov.
Substitutes: 12-Mihkel Aksalu, 22-Pavel Londak, 3-Alo Bärengrub, 17-Enar Jääger, 19-Artur Pikk, 20-Gert Kams, 21-Artjom Artjunin, 6-Aleksandr Dmitrijev, 11-Henrik Ojamaa, 7-Ats Purje, 9-Rimo Hunt, 14-Kaimar Saag.
The top two teams in the group will qualify automatically, as well as the best third-place team from the nine groups, while the eight remaining third-place teams will compete for four spots via play-off games.
Slovenia was in Estonia's Euro 2012 qualifying group, but lost 0-1 at home, although thanks to goals from Vassiljev and Ats Purje, Estonia won the away leg 2-1.
In other games on Monday, England beat Switzerland 2-0 away and Lithuania beat San Marino by the same score, also away.
Lithuania is next for Estonia, in Vilnius on October 8.