National football team in 1:0 away victory over Finland

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Estonian national team football fan. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The Estonian men's national football team defeated Finland 1:0 in a Helsinki friendly Friday, thanks to a Rauno Sappinen penalty in the second half, denying the hosts a win as they head into their first ever European Championship finals next weekend.

Estonia had beaten Lithuania by the same score-line earlier in the week in the round-robin Baltic tournament, finally putting to bed a two-year winless streak. Finland, on the other hand, had more to play for in front of the home crowd in that the team has qualified for this summer's European Championship finals.

Estonia's manager, Swiss national Thomas Häberli, who became coach in January, added that: "I'm of course really happy, because it's the second win in a row, against a good team … After this short time, I'm happy that we are able to play and to win of course, but we can always improve. We can do things better, but it needs time. The most important thing is our results, and these are at the moment very good."

Rauno Sappinen (FC Flora), the Estonian striker with the Finnish-sounding second name, had a shot on goal after two minutes, but Finland's keeper, Lukaš Hradecky (Bayer Leverkusen), pulled off a save, while at the other end of the pitch, Finnish striker Joel Pohjanpalo (Bayer Leverkusen) had a chance, which he also failed to convert.

In the 59th minute, Finland attacker Pyry Soiri (Esbjerg fB) pulled down defender Artur Pika (Miedź Legnica) in the Finnish box and the hosts picked up a penalty as a result, with Sappinen this time on target to bring the sole score of the game (see video below, commentary in Estonian).

English Premier League club Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki came on with half an hour to go, but to no avail, meaning Finland finish their pre-European Championships campaign with a loss, ahead of the team's opening encounter with Denmark on June 12.

Finland, who have qualified for the Euros for the first time ever, and Denmark, the 1992 winners, are in Group B for the tournament, joined by Belgium and Russia.

Estonia failed to qualify.

Finland and Estonia have played each other 35 times down the past century, with the record 17 wins to Finland, eight to Estonia and 10 draws, following Friday's result.

Estonia also won the last encounter, in Qatar in January 2019, 2:1.

Finland's largest win margin over Estonia came way back in 1922, with a 10:2 victory.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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