Finland saw off a spirited Armenia to claim all three points and storm to the summit of UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying Group A.
Veteran forward Mika Nurmela nodded the only goal within the opening ten minutes as the hosts rarely broke sweat in sub-zero conditions. The result, unbeaten Finland's third win in five games this campaign, gives Roy Hodgson's men a one-point advantage over second-placed Serbia, while Armenia remain second from bottom with a solitary point from four matches.
The only major adaptation either side had to make going into the game - aside from Finland having to cope without injured talisman Jari Litmanen - was the use of an artificial pitch, but there was nothing cosmetic about the gritty style of play. Once the match settled, however, the hosts showed their attacking prowess, Toni Kallio heading narrowly wide and Mika Väyrynen testing Gevorg Kasparov's reactions with a stinging drive from 20 metres.
In between, Levon Pachajyan managed to call Jussi Jääskeläinen into action at the other end, but Finland stayed on top and made the breakthrough on ten minutes when the 34-year-old Nurmela nodded Jonatan Johansson's chip into the bottom corner. Väyrynen then added his miscued chance to the couple wasted by Alexei Eremenko Jr as the home team chased their second of the evening, though the game was becoming more about strength than style.
Armenia briefly flirted with the latter when Armen Shahgeldyan went close, but as was generally the case Finland had little trouble dismantling their attacking threat. After the break, shooting from distance came into fashion, Joonas Kolkka and Pachajyan trying their luck from outside the area, but neither goalkeeper had cause to be concerned until Kasparov parried Johansson's close-range effort in the 77th minute.