A disciplined and determined defensive effort earned Finland a valuable point in Serbia which ensured both sides stayed in contention to progress from UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying Group A.
It might have been even better for Roy Hodgson's team had Jonatan Johansson accepted a presentable opportunity just past the quarter-hour, although Serbia largely controlled the play with Dejan Stanković, Miloš Krasić, Danko Lazović twice, and Nikola Žigić all spurning chances to claim a morale-boosting three points ahead of the trip to Portugal on Wednesday. Finland, meanwhile, welcome Poland to Helsinki the same evening having taken 18 points from their first ten matches.
The visitors settled quickly in Belgrade and, after a spell of possession, carved out the first real opening of the game, Johansson finding space on the edge of the Serbia penalty area in the 17th minute only to lift his shot over the crossbar. That proved Finland's only opportunity of the contest as the home side gradually pressed them back. Stankovic curled a free-kick beyond Jussi Jääskeläinen but over the woodwork while Krasić's effort was blocked by Hannu Tihinen and Lazović shot wide from Boško Janković's corner.
Finland hold firm
The second half followed the pattern of the first with Serbia seeking a breakthrough; Lazović squandered another chance as he shot straight at Jääskeläinen from close range. Home coach Javier Clemente used all his substitutes as he attempted to find the combination to unlock the Finland defence and the reshuffle almost paid off in the 72nd minute. Zoran Tošić picked out fellow substitute Žigić only for the striker to head wide. With Finland defending in numbers Serbia were reduced to trying their luck from distance as time ran out, Milan Jovanović flashing one such effort wide as the visitors held firm.