It wasn’t a good week for Finns in Europe, with Carl Jenkinson picking up a knee injury in the Champions League on Wednesday evening and no wins for any Finnish player in the Europa League on Thursday. None of them managed to score either, but they certainly got a few cards.
Finland and AZ Alkmaar captain Niklas Moisander played 92 minutes of his side’s home match against Austria Wien before getting sent off for two yellow cards. AZ were trailing 0-2 after half an hour, during which time Moisander had picked up his first yellow card, but they rallied to draw 2-2 with one goal from Sweden international Pontus Wernbloom and the other an owl goal. Moisander’s second yellow came right at the end of injury time in the match, for a foul on Wien’s Zlatko Junuzović. AZ lost their place at the top of group G to Metalist Kharkiv of Ukraine and might be disappointed with the result, but will probably be relieved to have salvaged a point from a match they looked like losing. Moisander will miss their next game, which is the reverse fixture in Vienna on the 3rd of November.
Also in group G, Markus Halsti watched his Malmö side lose 1-4 at home to Metalist from the substitutes’ bench, not taking any part in the match. Malmö scored the first goal and had a one man advantage for most of the match after Metalist’s Jonathan Cristaldo was sent off, but contrived to lose the match emphatically. They have only one point from three matches and don’t look like they will be participating in the competition beyond the group stage.
Former Finland captain Petri Pasanen went through the reverse experience to Moisander, as Red Bull Salzburg threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Athletic Bilbao in Spain. Pasanen played the whole match and picked up a yellow card, but it was two of his defensive colleagues at fault for the conceded goals. Fernando Llorente scored two penalties, the first after a foul by Ibrahim Sekagya, the second after a hand-ball by Rasmus Lindgren, who picked up a second yellow card and was sent off in the process. Salzburg are third in group F on four points, level with Paris Saint-Germain and three behind Bilbao.
Finally, Alexei Eremenko Jr came on for Rubin Kazan in the 78th minute of their 1-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur. He also picked up a yellow card, in what seemed to be the theme of the night for Finnish players. Rubin were arguably the better team on the night – they had more possession, more shots and more shots on target than their opponents, but couldn’t find a goal. It was a Russian player who scored against them, Roman Pavlychenko with a sweet free kick for the home side. Rubin are third in group A behind Spurs and PAOK of Greece, but have two home matches coming up in November to turn things around.
This post was made as a contribution to the Europa Legion, a network of Europa League bloggers on Twitter.
Veikkausliiga weekend preview
In this weekend’s Veikkausliiga matches, RoPS will be relegated if they lose at KuPS, or if Jaro beat JJK and VPS beat Honka. Inter Turku will seal second place if they win away at Mariehamn and Honka and JJK both fail to win. Champions HJK are at home against MyPa and TPS will be hoping for a win against Haka to stay in the race for a Europa League spot.
I think KuPS vs RoPS could be a very interesting match. KuPS are clearly stronger on paper, but they have lost their last two matches while RoPS have won both of their last two. KuPS are safely in mid-table with nothing to play for, while their opponents must be spurred on by their recent results to try to achieve a miraculous escape from relegation. Their fate is not in their own hands, and I’m still pretty sure they will be relegated, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win once again this weekend.
All the matches take kick off at 14:00 (Finnish time, UTC+3) on Saturday, apart from Inter vs Mariehamn, which kicks off an hour later.