Finland got their UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying campaign back on track with a convincing 2-0 success against Kazakhstan in Almaty – Roy Hodgson's side's second away win in Group A.
The Finns were held to a disappointing goalless draw in Armenia on Saturday, but fears that the result had taken the wind out of their sails following an otherwise strong opening to the section were vanquished at the Tcentralny Stadium. Jari Litmanen broke the deadlock before the half-hour and the visitors immediately settled. Sami Hyypiä doubled the lead midway through the second half and Finland eased to victory as their hopes of reaching a first major tournament remain alive.
Those aspirations appeared in the balance as Hodgson's men made a tentative start against a Kazakhstan team that had drawn two of their first three games. Arno Pijpers' side were more than a match for the visitors in the early exchanges and Jussi Jääskeläinen had to be alert to deny Dmitriy Byakov on 17 minutes. The Finns, however, were causing danger at the other end with Joonas Kolkka, Litmanen and Mika Väyrynen all coming close in a frantic spell before Litmanen finally broke the hosts' resolve, tapping in Mikael Forssell's cross.
The goal transformed Finland. Litmanen and Kolkka began to run the Kazakhstan back line ragged although they were unable to work a second and Nurbol Zhumaskaliyev could have equalised on the cusp of half-time but headed wide. It was a let-off for Finland, and Hyypiä subsequently wrapped up the points with a close-range header on 65 minutes as the visitors started to dominate. With eight points from four games, Finland face Armenia on 15 November when Kazakhstan meet Portugal.