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|Sant Julià||Rapid Bucureşti|
By Margus Luik at Kadriorg Stadium
A late strike from Tuomas Kuparinen saved Myllykosken Pallo-47's blushes in Estonia after FC TVMK Tallinn came within 13 minutes of a surprise win in this UEFA Cup first qualifying round first-leg tie.
The home side looked on course for a famous victory against their more illustrious Nordic neighbours after a superb 37th-minute goal from Ingemar Teever gave them a deserved lead. Tarmo Neemelo then had a number of chances to double the advantage but failed to do so and was made to pay for that profligacy on 77 minutes when Kuparinen struck from long range.
The in-form Estonian league leaders will consider a draw a disappointing result after dominating large parts of the match. The hosts attacked from the kick-off, with strikers Neemelo and Teever causing the MyPa defence all manner of problems.
On 37 minutes the duo combined to break the deadlock, Neemelo's diagonal pass piercing the back line and Estonian international Teever finishing with aplomb. It could have been 2-0 almost immediately, as winger Maksim Smirnov, a constant menace to the MyPa full-backs, won the ball in midfield and dribbled into the penalty box but his powerful shot came back off the post.
With the visitors firmly on the back foot, Teever then forced Janne Korhonen to make a brilliant fingertip save after more good work from Neemelo. TVMK continued to press after the break, with Neemelo guilty of some wasteful finishing. First he contrived to miss the ball after a defence-splitting pass from Smirnov before heading the subsequent corner straight at Korhonen.
Those misses were to prove costly as MyPa, who lead the Finnish First Division, always posed a threat. Knowing that a goal would turn the tie on its head, they pushed forward in the final quarter and Kuparinen's long-range drive secured a 1-1 draw to take back to Finland for the return leg in two weeks.
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