Baltics booted in European Cup qualifiers

  • 2007-03-26
  • Joel Alas
Estonia and Lithuania lost their European Football Championship qualifying matches across the weekend, making their progress toward the 2008 competition less likely.

Estonia lost to Russia 0-2 in a heated match at Tallinn's A Le Coq Arena on March 24. Russia dominated possession during much of the game, with Alexander Kerzhakov scoring both goals late in the second half.
Authorities were braced for clashes after the match, but few altercations were recorded. The only incident occurred during the game, at which a group of Russian spectators held signs calling for Estonia to abandon its plans to remove the Bronze Soldier Soviet memorial.
It is the third time Estonia has lost to Russia in football matches since independence. Estonia has defeated Russia once during a friendly match in 2002.
Lithuania lost to France 0-1 at Kaunas on March 24. However the loss was viewed as a brave effort, given that France came second in the 2006 World Cup.
Lithuania still ranks 5 out of 11 teams in the tournament.
Both Estonia and Lithuania are vying to play in the 2008 European Football Championship, but must advance in the preliminary matches to qualify for the competition.