Two goals from Indrek Zelinski helped Estonia to a 2-0 UEFA EURO 2004™ Group 8 away win against Andorra at the Comunal stadium in Andorra La Vella.
Zelinski scored in the 26th and 74th minutes to move Estonia to within a point of Belgium and two behind Croatia in the section, and left Arno Pijpers's side in confident mood ahead of the return match on 7 June. Andorra remain bottom of the table, with four defeats in as many matches so far.
Estonia were forced to do without star striker Andres Oper, ruled out with a thigh muscle injury, and central defender Raio Piiroja, but were boosted by the return of captain Martin Reim after a calf problem. Meanwhile, Andorra coach David Rodrigo made two changes from the side who were defeated 2-0 by Croatia at the start of April, with Jordi Escura and Justo Ruíz included.
Both sides began slowly, with Estonia launching numerous long balls forward. Yet Andorra, with goalkeeper Koldo Alvarez looking particularly solid throughout, held firm, and enjoyed spells of pressure of their own. Estonia goalkeeper Mart Poom was twice called into action in the first 25 minutes, punching clear under pressure and then coming quickly off his line to clear a misdirected back-pass from Urmas Rooba.
Zelinski on target
However, in the 27th minute, the away side took the lead, as Sergei Terehhov's through-ball was cleverly dummied by Kristan Viikmäe and Zelinski burst clear to shoot past Alvarez. Four minutes later, it was almost two, but Marek Lemsalu could only head over the crossbar when unmarked three metres from goal.
Undeterred, Andorra continued to press, but struggled to create clear chances against a solid and well-organised defence, with Manolo Jiménez's shot over the crossbar after the ball had broken kindly on the edge of the Estonia penalty area the closest they came. Two minutes before half-time, Justo Ruíz laid a free-kick low into the penalty area, but Emiliano González's shot was blocked and Manolo Jiménez's effort dribbled wide.
Home side on top
The second half began in similar fashion, with Andorra pressing forward but unable to seriously threaten Poom's goal. Estonia looked largely comfortable but needed the cushion of a second goal. It almost arrived after 67 minutes, as Terehhov's throw-in from the right evaded Alvarez, but there was no one there to capitalise for the away side.
Reim goes close
Estonia came even closer to doubling their lead three minutes later with Reim twice having chances, as first his low free-kick was turned behind by the Andorra goalkeeper. The resulting corner found the Estonia captain in time and space inside the Andorra penalty area, but he could only shoot wide.
The goal arrived 15 minutes from time, with Terehhov again the creator, bursting down the left and crossing for Zelinski to head powerfully beyond Alvarez. The Andorra custodian made another fine stop, palming away substitute Joel Lindpere's late free-kick, but by then the result was secured.