Meistriliiga team Tallinna FCI Levadia kept their 2023 title hopes alive after scoring in stoppage time in Sunday's derby clash with Tallinna FC Flora, to win 2:1 in the penultimate game of the season.
The match was originally scheduled to take place at the A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn, but with a national team clash against Austria coming up on November 16 at this venue and concerns about pitch quality, the game was played at the adjacent Sportland Arena instead.
Levadia went into Sunday's match five points behind Flora and with one match left in the 2023 season. While a point would have been enough for Flora to take the title, a Levadia win would cut the deficit to two points, leaving it all to play for on the final day of the league season.
The teams first met at league level this season in April, when Levadia came away with a 2:0 victory, while two more matches followed in late June and early September, both resulting in draws.
Flora manager Jürgen Henn noted that the two teams as rivals were well-versed in each other's style of play and roster of players, meaning tactics would play less of a part while much would hinge on who played well on the day.
Levadia's manager, former player Curro Torres (Spain), said that the team had the obligation to both win and to play well in the process, while defender Rasmus Peetson pointed out the team's youth and variety, reiterating a strong desire to win.
Flora continues to have many absentees; the injured veteran player Konstantin Vassiljev and the suspended Rauno Alliku were left out of Sunday's clash.
On the day, Levadia striker Mollo Bessala (Cameroon) was on target in the 34th minute.
The score remained at 1:0 to Levadia at halftime, but Flora equalized in the 70th minute with a beautiful strike by Henrik Ojamaa, following a build-up from midfielder Martin Miller.
Had things stayed as they were, Flora would have taken the 2023 league title and looked set to do so as normal time ended and stoppage time began.
However, a cross from Edgar Tur in the fifth minute of stoppage time to Levadia's Malian striker Burama Fomba, who found the net, meant that Levadia live to fight another day and the title will not be decided until the final game of the season.
Fomba said post-match that it had been: "Amazing. It was a very, very good feeling, and a long time since I last felt like that."
"It's very, very comfortable now. Now we have the confidence to prepare for the last game, as in football, anything can happen," the striker added.
Going into the final weekend of the 2023 season, then, Flora has 78 points and Levadia 76 (as per standard, a win accrues three points, a draw, one point for each team).
Flora however has the home advantage, facing Nõmme Kalju at home on Saturday, November 11.
Levadia on the other hand will be on the road, away to Paide Linnameeskond on the same day.
A video of highlights of Sunday's match from ERR's Sport portal is below.
Editor: Andrew Whyte