A spectacular goal from defender Teet Allas helped Estonia to a 2-0 victory against Andorra that lifts them to second place in UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying Group 8.
Having won 2-0 in Andorra in April, Estonia were keen to repeat that success in Tallinn today, and were able to field a full-strength side. Andorra defender Ildefons Lima and his brother Toni, a midfield player, were both back after missing the previous defeat, although José Ayala was suspended.
Goal from halfway line
Estonia began the game strongly, and in the 23rd minute Allas gave them a deserved lead when he was first to a goal-kick from Andorra keeper Koldo Alvarez, and lobbed the ball from 35 metres over the shocked custodian and into the net.
Estonia hold on
Kristen Viikmae then doubled the lead ten minutes later when he tapped the ball in following a scramble after an Estonia corner. Andorra put Estonia goalkeeper Mart Poom under pressure early in the second half after the arrival of substitute striker Marc Pujol, but the home side soon regained control and held on for a win that takes them up to second place following group leaders Bulgaria's 2-2 draw with Belgium in Sofia.
'Our attack functioned well'
After the game, Estonia's Dutch coach Arno Pijpers said: "The second-half performance by us was absolutely terrible. Of course I am also very disappointed about Kristen [Viikmäe]'s caution [which rules him out of the next qualifier].
"We did play excellent football at the start of the game. Our attack functioned well, we scored two goals, which was our aim - to destroy our opponents quickly." His team can consolidate second place and move to within a point of Bulgaria with victory at home to Croatia on Wednesday.
'Two different halves'
Meanwhile, Andorra coach David Rodrigo, whose side have lost all five group games and are now officially out of qualification contention, said: "Today we had two different halves. Estonia attacked more in the opening half. In the second half the introduction of Pujol gave us more quality.
Praise for Poom
"Playmaking was our problem. Our defence played much better in the second half. I have to pay Mart Poom a compliment - he was excellent." His team's next game is against Belgium on Wednesday in Gand.