"It's true that to defend a title is much harder than just to win it," said Martin Reim after his FC Flora Tallinn side retained the Estonian championship with a game to spare, their ninth success.
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FC Flora Tallinn retained the Estonian title with a game to spare on Tuesday after defeating FC Viljandi 4-0, with coach Martin Reim admitting the run-in was "nervous".
Ahead of kick-off, Flora were a point clear of JK Nõmme Kalju with two games left – both against Viljandi – to their rivals' one. There was a goalless first half at A. Le Coq Arena, but the home side then surged away, Hannes Anier scoring twice, and Valeri Minkenen and Markus Jürgenson both finding the target to help wrap up Flora's ninth championship.
Reim, seven times a champion as a Flora player and now responsible for their other two titles since taking over as coach last year, said: "We not just kept on playing at a high pace in the second half, but I think we even increased the tempo. Substitutions played an important role too, just look what an amazing goal Hannes scored."
Viljandi defender Joel Indermitte said: "We were able to keep a clean sheet in the first half, but Flora's physical advantage had an impact eventually. To be honest we hoped to take one point against Flora the way we did in spring."
Reflecting on the season, Reim added: "The last few months were pretty nervous for us. It's true that to defend a title is much harder than to just win it. We have one more game to play and we want to finish the season on a positive note."
"It's a very emotional moment," defender Gert Kams said. "It feels like a weight has been lifted from our shoulders. Everybody expects that the champions will win more and more. There is always a special motivation for matches against the champions."
While Flora can look forward to a 2012/13 UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign, the UEFA Europa League places have gone to Nõmme Kalju and JK Trans Narva. FC Levadia Tallinn have finished outside the top three for the first time but can still enter Europe next season if they win the Estonian Cup, currently held by Flora – who are already quarter-finalists – in the spring.