Eesti Jalgpalli Liit
Latvian national football team defeated Estonia in the second semifinal match of this year's Baltic Cup tournament, which also was the farewell match for one of Latvia's best-ever footballers Maris Verpakovskis.
The score at the end of regulation time was 0-0, but Latvia won the subsequent penalty shootout 4-2 and will play in the final match against Lithuania on Sunday. The match will be played in Liepaja.
Defender Olegs Timofejevs and midfielder Visvaldis Ignatans had their debut in the national team yesterday.
Earlier on Thursday, Lithuania defeated Finland 1-0 in the other semifinal match. The third-place game will be played in Ventspils on Saturday.
At the moment, Latvia is ranked 109th in the FIFA rankings, while Estonia is ranked 93rd.
"The main thing is that the team stays in Liepaja and will play in the final. I spent a good deal of my life playing for the national team, it was like a second family to me. I think I was playing well today, and I enjoyed every minute of it. There is a lot of emotions, I still remember my surprise when I could join the national team at the age of 19. I scored in that match, it was like a fairy tale," Verpakovskis said in an interview with the Latvian State Television after the game.
The 34-year-old Verpakovskis was on the pitch for 11 minutes in yesterday's game. He announced his retirement from the national team last year, and earlier this year announced his retirement from professional football. Verpakovskis has become the new director of "Liepaja", which was established earlier this year on the ashes of Liepaja's now defunct football club "Liepajas metalurgs".
Verpakovskis has played in 104 games Latvian national team's games and is Latvia's all-time leading goal scorer with a total of 29 goals scored for the national team.
Verpakovskis is best known and remembered in Latvia for helping the national team to surprisingly qualify for the 2004 European Championships (EURO 2004).
In his club career, Verpakovskis has played for such clubs as Ukrainian giants Kiev "Dinamo", Croatian football club "Hajduk", and Spanish football clubs "Celta" and ''Getafe''. He began his career with Latvian football club "Liepajas metalurgs".