Estonian men's team finish third in Baltic Cup after 2-0 win over Lithuania
The Estonian men's national football team won 2-0 against Lithuania on Saturday to take third place in this year's Baltic Cup. Iceland were crowned 2022 Baltic Cup winners, beating Latvia 8-7 on penalties after the sides played out a 1-1 draw in the final at the Daugava Stadium in Riga.
Estonia dominated the first half of the third-fourth place play-off against Lithuania at the A. Le Coq Stadium in Tallinn, but failed to open the scoring.
It was only after the introduction of Sergei Zenjov mid-way through the second half that the home side started to make their dominance count.
Flora Tallinn striker Zenjov, who missed a crucial penalty in the semi-final shootout against Latvia, headed home on 65 minutes after a cross from the left by Vlasi Sinjavski (Slovacko). It was the second goal in as many Baltic Cup matches this season for Zenjov, who had just come on to replace Erik Sorga (IFK Göteborg) a minute earlier.
FCI Levadia's Rasmus Peetson added a second in the 89th minute to secure the victory, stealing in between two Lithuanian defenders to convert a cross from Georgi Tunjov (S.P.A.L.) and net his first goal for the national team.
After the match, Estonia Head Coach Thomas Häberli said that his side had deserved the win.
"The team tried to play football on this difficult pitch. They worked hard until the end and I think we deserved to win," Häberli told ERR. "We tried to be aggressive again and press the opposition and it worked well. We can be proud of the team."
"At international level, the most difficult thing is to score goals," he continued. "We can't score from every chance, but we can create chances. It was difficult to play on the pitch but we scored two goals and I'm happy with the clean sheet, because that's always difficult," Häberli said.
Since losing to Cyprus in the Nations League at the end of March, Estonia have only been beaten once in normal time this calendar year: a 5-0 friendly defeat against Argentina in June, when all five goals were scored by Lionel Messi. The Baltic Cup semi-final loss to Latvia, which came after a penalty shootout, will go down in the record books as a draw.
"It was difficult in March, but after that we have played well, said Häberli, reflecting on the team's performances in 2022. "We only lost to Messi. We won five and then drew in Latvia and lost on penalties, which is a bit unlucky. But we're moving in a good rhythm, scoring goals and I'm looking forward to next year."
All the highlights from Estonia's 2-0 win over Lithuania in the men's Baltic Cup third-fourth place play-off match can be seen here.
In the final, Iceland, who were special guests in this year's tournament, took the lead after 62 minutes through a penalty from Isak Bergmann Johannesson. However, despite being down to ten players from the 27th minute following the sending off of 21-year-old forward Raimonds Krollis, Latvia found their way back into the game. Midfielder Andrejs Ciganiks, who plays his club football for Slovak side DAC 1904, slotted home to draw the sides level on 67 minutes.
In the end, it was Iceland who prevailed, winning the third penalty shootout of this year's competition 8- 7 after Latvian captain Antonijs Černomordijs (Riga F.C.) missed the final spot-kick.
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Editor: Michael Cole