Paide seal Conference League win on penalties, Flora slip up in Finland

Mihkel Aksalu was the hero for Paide in the Conference League win over Dinamo Tbilisi
Mihkel Aksalu was the hero for Paide in the Conference League win over Dinamo Tbilisi Source: ETV2

Paide Linnameeskond are through to the next round of the UEFA Conference League after defeating Georgian side Dinamo Tbilisi in a penalty shootout at Pärnu's Rannastadion on Thursday. Flora Tallinn's hopes of making the Conference League group stages were dashed following their 4-3 aggregate defeat against Seinäjoki of Finland.

It turned out to be a night to remember for fans of Paide Linnameeskond, but for a long time things didn't seem to be going their way. Leading 3-2 from the first leg of this UEFA Conference League first preliminary round tie with Dinamo Tbilisi, even a draw on the night would have been good enough to send the Estonians through.  

After a goalless first half, there was a sense of inevitability about Dinamo's opener, with Paide seemingly content to hold on to their slender first leg advantage.

Substitute Ousmane Camara was a constant threat for Dinamo, and it was his cross from the left, which was turned in by Davit Skhirtladze to give the visitors a 1-0 lead on the night, and make it 3-3 on aggregate.

With the away goals rule no longer in force for this year's competition, and neither side able to snatch a late winner, the game headed for extra time.

By now the momentum was all with Dinamo, and just three minutes into the additional half hour, Belarusian striker Dmitry Antilevsky converted another cross from Camara to make it 2-0.

Just when it seemed like there was no way back for Paide the tide started to turn.

Dinamo dropped deep to defend their lead, inviting a period of pressure from the Estonian side. With just five minutes of extra time left on the clock, Paide's 18-year-old Gambian forward Ebrima Singhateh burst into the penalty area, where he was brought down by a tired looking challenge from Dinamo's number 19, Simon Gbegnon. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, with Singhateh stepping up to convert from twelve yards and bring the tie level at 4-4.

With the scores even after extra time, it came down to a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

The first five spot kicks from either side were expertly dispatched, with neither Paide goalkeeper Mihkel Aksalu nor Dinamo's Andrés Prieto close to making a save.  

But, after Kristopher Piht had put Paide 6-5 ahead in the shootout, it was Aksalu who emerged as the hero, causing pandemonium amongst the home fans after saving from Levan Kharabadze to send the Estonian side into the next round. "It's a very, very nice feeling, we can travel again," said Aksalu after the game.

Paide Head Coach Karel Voolaid but the result down to the strong competition for places amongst his squad, and also praised his players for their patience. "A good bench has been one of our trump cards this season. We have good, strong guys in the team, which means we have competition (for places) and sometimes it's hard to pick a line-up for a game. (Dinamo) played very well in the first half, controlled the game and were patient, but we kept a cool head in the second half, were patient at 1-0 down and waited for the right moments," said Voolaid.

Paide will now face Armenian side Ararat-Armenia in the second preliminary round of the UEFA Conference League, with matches set to take place on July 21 and 28.

Paide Linnameeskond Head Coach Karel Voolaid Source: ETV2


Flora slip up in Finland

Elsewhere, FC Flora Tallinn were left wondering where it all went wrong in their Conference League clash with Finnish side Seinäjoki. The Estonian team crashed out of the competition 4-3 on aggregate after leading 3-0 in the tie with just 31 minutes of normal time remaining.

After winning 1-0 at home in the first leg last week, Flora doubled their aggregate lead through a Michael Lilander header on 21 minutes. Two minutes into the second half, Henrik Ojama made it 2-0 to Flora on the night, and 3-0 on aggregate, with the Estonian side seemingly cruising into the next round.

But then things started to go downhill for Flora. Seinäjoki were awarded a penalty for a clumsy challenge by Henrik Pürg in the 59th minute, which was duly converted by English striker Jake Jervis, who added a second seven minutes later to bring the scores level on the night.

With Flora clinging on to a 3-2 aggregate lead, Ken Kallaste received two yellow cards in the space of a minute, the second for serious foul play, leaving the Estonians with ten men. But they couldn't hold out for long, with Jervis completing his hat-trick on 86 minutes to take the tie into extra time.

Things went from bad to worse for Flora, when Sergei Zenjov was also shown a second yellow card on 111 minutes. Two minutes later Ville Tikkanen made it 4-2 on the night, sealing Seinäjoki's victory over 9-man Flora and sending the Estonian side crashing out of this year's competition, 4-3 on aggregate. Seinäjoki will now play against Norwegian club Lilleström in the next round.

Paide Linnameeskond take on Ararat-Armenia in the second preliminary round of the UEFA Conference League, while Estonian Champions FCI Levadia Tallinn face Hibernians of Malta. Matches take place on July 21 and 28.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Michael Cole

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: