The Estonian men's national football team received its first UEFA Nations League point of the season after a 3:3 draw against North Macedonia at A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn on Sunday.
For Estonia, this match marked the first goal scored and first point of the UEFA Nations League after three matches played. As the home team were up two goals 10 minutes before match end, the end score is still not ideal.
The match started off horribly for Estonia, as in the third minute center-back Märten Kuusk passed back toward goal to goalkeeper Karl Jakob Hein who unfortunately was not standing where Kuusk expected him to, leading to an own-goal, which put North Macedonia up 1:0 early.
In the 33rd minute, Estonia played the ball ahead well on the left flank with Artur Pikk whipping in a low cross, met by Rauno Sappinen, who equalized the match at one.
The first half ended with the Estonians making an injury substitution and surviving a dangerous free kick, the teams headed to break at 1:1.
The Estonian side took a lead in the 61st minute as Sappinen was on the spot to put in a strike after the North Macedonian goalkeeper had deflected an earlier try from Nikita Baranov, putting the Estonians up 2:1.
Baranov however had the ball come off his hand in the Estonian box just five minutes later, with the North Macedonians receiving a penalty, which Aleksandar Trajkovski missed on.
In the 74th minute, a free kick from Estonia hit the hand of a North Macedonian man in the wall, leading to a penalty for the home side. Sub Frank Liivak took his opportunity and put the ball away with a clean strike, celebrating a 3:1 lead for Estonia.
The guests however took one back in the 80th minute when a cross from the right sideline was slotted in by veteran man Goran Pandev, bringing the guests to within one goal of draw, which they were able to achieve just three minutes before regulation with Gjoko Zajkov equalizing the match after many touches in the box.
All goals are available for re-watch in the video attached to the article.
While the eventful match brought the Estonians their first goals and points of the European competition season, the manager and players were not fully pleased, as they choked a 3:1 lead in the final 10 minutes.
Manager Karel Voolaid told ERR reporter Aet Süvari post-match: "I had a plan that I would come and dance with you after the match and say we're not depressed and that everything is fine."
Voolaid continued: "But we must put it behind us! I told the players too, sports is a battle between two teams. There weres some good guys on the pitch, they didn't stop fighting, we didn't either. We have to shake our heads but also be happy with the one point as well."
As the national team remains win-less in their last ten European matches, the manager said the result can still be considered a success. "The moment in the start of the match (Märten Kuusk's own-goal - ed.) showed that the team in a tough situation and what happened with Märten... The team was behind him all the way, we had faith and came out of it well."
Volaid concluded: "They're good boys! They follow our orders. We must ask for what's possible. If we start to make unrealistic demands, then... unrealistic demands are not okay. This does not mean we do not want to win, we are not quite on the level of Macedonia but we want to beat anyone at that level at home."
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste