Estonia hold firm to grab Slovenia win

Slovenia 0-1 Estonia
A first-half goal from Artur Rättel and some outstanding goalkeeping from Marko Meerits helped the visitors to their first victory of Group 2.

Slovenia's Elvis Bratanovič (right) and Maksim Podholjuzin of Estonia compete for the ball

A first-half goal from Artur Rättel kick-started Estonia's UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign as Slovenia endured a frustrating evening.

Rättel made the breakthrough on 22 minutes, collecting Andreas Raudsepp's low cross, turning marker Nemanja Mitrovič and firing in. At the break a 1-0 lead was the least Estonia deserved but Slovenia laid siege to their goal in the second half. Only some wayward finishing and outstanding saves from Marko Meerits denied them at least a share of the Group 2 spoils.

"We needed this success after two bad games," said Estonia coach Martin Reim, whose team moved second with four points from three games with the win. "I expected a tough match, but we were better in the first half. We knew Slovenia would press hard in the second half, but we held on and had chances to score. This victory is very important for our confidence."

Meerits will certainly have high morale after an outstanding performance, largely at the expense of the lively Andraž Šporar. The striker went close with his feet, with his head and even in a one-on-one early in the second half but the goalkeeper stood firm. "This is a disappointment," home coach Tomaž Kavčič conceded after what was his team's first qualifier.