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Season review: Estonia

Published: Wednesday 14 December 2011, 10.22CET
FC Flora Tallinn won a second successive league title with a game to spare while seven-time Estonian champions FC Levadia Tallinn finished outside the top three for the first time.
Season review: Estonia
Trans Narva's Aleksandrs Čekulajevs scored a recod 46 goals in the Estonian top flight in 2011 ©JK Trans Narva
Published: Wednesday 14 December 2011, 10.22CET

Season review: Estonia

FC Flora Tallinn won a second successive league title with a game to spare while seven-time Estonian champions FC Levadia Tallinn finished outside the top three for the first time.

FC Flora Tallinn clinched a second successive First League title with a game to spare, also completing a third double, while seven-time Estonian champions FC Levadia Tallinn finished outside the top three for the first time.

Champions: FC Flora Tallinn
Under the guidance of former captain Martin Reim, Flora continued to gamble on the most promising Estonian youngsters and the policy paid off when they won a tough championship battle against JK Nõmme Kalju. The Pink Panthers even drew level at the top of the First League with Flora in the run-in, but Kalju's eclectic blend of former Estonian internationals and foreign imports fell just short of the finishing line. Despite accumulating five points less than last season, Flora secured their ninth Estonian title with conviction.

Cup final: JK Trans Narva 0-2 FC Flora Tallinn
Just two months after lifting the Estonian Super Cup, Flora also won the Estonian Cup for a fifth time. With the match evenly poised at half-time, Flora broke the deadlock within four minutes of the restart. Markus Jürgenson popped up to score after Valeri Minkenen's cross caused havoc in the Trans defence. The Narva outfit, who came third in the table for the third year running, kept the pressure on Flora yet failed to find a breakthrough. Alo Dupikov's neat finish duly sealed the silverware for the Tallinn side.

European places*
FC Flora Tallinn – UEFA Champions League qualifying
JK Nõmme Kalju – UEFA Europa League qualifying
JK Trans Narva – UEFA Europa League qualifying
2012 Estonian Cup winner – UEFA Europa League qualifying

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Sergei Mošnikov (FC Flora Tallinn)
Sergei Mošnikov earned the award, voted for by Estonia's top-flight coaches, after edging out Trans forward Aleksandrs Čekulajevs by one point. The 23-year-old was only the seventh-best goalscorer in his own team but played a decisive role in Flora's midfield. Mošnikov caught the eye with his passing ability, acting as his side's creative catalyst. If an end-of-term trial with Polish outfit Pogoń Szczecin failed to secure a contract, their loss will be Flora's gain.

One to watch: Marko Meerits (FC Flora Tallinn/Vitesse)
Marko Meerits gained international recognition in his first senior campaign with Flora. The goalkeeper kept eight clean sheets in 13 league appearances before moving on to Dutch club Vitesse. The 19-year-old has already played four Eredivisie games, been capped twice by his country and been voted Estonia's 2011 young player of the year.

Surprise package: Paide Linnameeskond
Usually a sizeable gap develops between the leading pack of five or six sides in the Meistriliiga and the rest, but this season amateur outfit Paide Linnameeskond fared very well. Despite nearly getting relegated in 2010, they spent much of this campaign rubbing shoulders with the championship chasers – producing notable upsets when beating Nõmme Kalju, Levadia Tallinn and JK Sillamäe Kalev. They ended up sixth and a great deal of the credit for their success goes to coach Meelis Rooba.

Leading scorer: Aleksandrs Čekulajevs (JK Trans Narva) 46

Number: 46
The astonishing tally of goals scored by 25-year-old Latvian forward Čekulajevs set a league record, surpassing the milestone of 41 set by Nõmme Kalju striker Tarmo Neemelo in 2005, when he played for TVMK. Eighteen of Čekulajevs's 46 goals came against bottom side FC Ajax Lasnamäe, who may be more relieved than anyone that the attacker is out of contract and could play abroad next year.

Relegated: FC Ajax Lasnamäe

Promoted: JK Kalev Tallinn

Quote
"When you can't score goals it's foolish to think about winning – we haven't so much as dreamt about the title for a long time, it would just be good to finish second or third."
Coach Sergei Hohlov-Simson whose Levadia Tallinn team endured their worst ever top-flight campaign.

Last updated: 19/01/12 12.25CET

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http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/association=est/news/newsid=1733380.html#season+review+estonia

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