FC Flora advances to next round of UEFA Europa League
Reigning Estonian football champs FC Flora have advanced to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday after a 2:1 victory over Icelandic club KR Reykjavik, who were down to 10 men for much of the second half.
The match started well for the Estonian club as Rauno Sappinen was able to give Flora the lead in the seventh minute, with Michael Lilander extending the home side's lead half an hour later with a cracking attempt from long distance, tucked away in the low corner.
Lilander commented on his long-distance effort following the match: "Today's weather made the pitch wet. I took my time to check and see if I could pass the ball laterally, but there was noone pressing, so I hit it low on the ground with the top of my foot. It went pretty well."
After the half-time break, Aegir Jonasson of Reykjavik received his second yellow card in the 58th minute and was sent off. The Icelandic club, now playing a man down, was still able to put one away as Kristjan Floki Finnbogason was on target on the 75th minute.
Flora forward Rauno Sappinen, scorer of the first goal, told ETV after the match: "We scored on a few chances, but left a lot unscored though. The match was not great, but I think it will not keep us down any longer today. We did what we had to do."
He noted: "We have to learn how to kill off a match better. If we are 2:0 up and the opponent is playing with ten men, there should not be any other option. Today, we held on through to the end.
Flora manager Jürgen Henn told ERR: "You saw it - we played well up to the 70th minute. The opponent did not have much chance. As for ourselves... we do not often see this many chances or shots on goal, even in practice."
Henn continued: "The players for some reason... were not confident enough and decisive on goal. If you let the opponent back into the match, it can create nerves. In conclusion, I am glad we advanced."
Flora will face Maltese champion Floriana in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. The match will be played in Malta on September 24.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste