RIGA - In what was a tense, closely fought and often aggressive game, the Baltic neighbors Latvia and Estonia played out a 2-2 draw in their Oct. 13 World Cup qualifier in Riga.
Although Latvia was favorite to win the game, Estonia raised its game and somehow managed to earn the draw in what was the most exciting game at Skonto Stadium since Latvia played Turkey there last year.
The Estonians were a little sharper to begin with, with Sergei Terehov and Ingemar Teever roaming free on the wings. But the home side found its form toward the end of the first half and the Latvian attack, spearheaded by Maris Verpakovskis, created some good chances.
The Estonian forward Andres Oper almost scored in the 53rd minute with a stunning bicycle kick but Aleksandrs Kolinko managed to save it. But as the game wore on Latvia began to lay siege to the Estonian goal. Latvia inevitably took the lead when the Estonian goalkeeper Mart Poom didn't even try to save a weakly struck long shot by Vitalijs Astafjefs in the 65th minute.
But after just seven minutes Oper leveled the game at 1-1 after a sweetly worked break down the wing, sending the sizable Estonian contingent of fans into ecstasy.
As the game drew to a frantic conclusion, Estonia went 1-2 ahead thanks to some nice interpassing and a well-taken header by Ingemar Teever in the 80th minute. But Jurijs Laizans made the final score 2-2 when he scored two minutes later.
Speaking at the press conference after the game, the Estonian coach Jelle Goes said the result of the match was "fair."
"We had the game under control, and the way the Latvians played was not a surprise for us. We were able to play well after Latvia scored," said Goes. "We should have won 2-1, but Latvia's quality made it 2-2," he added.