Finland 2 Azerbaijan 1

Shefki Kuqi saves the day! A fantastic finish from the big man, glanced in off his nose after a goalmouth scramble. The most hilarious thing about the goal was seeing all the Azeri players surrounding the referee and pointing to the big screen attempting to get the referee to disallow it because their keeper had been ‘fouled’.

It had looked unlikely Finland would ever score, with Tihinen missing chances and hitting the bar, Sjölund shooting fractionally higher than that, Tainio also hitting the bar, Kallio inexplicably failing to make contact from 2 yards out, and Tainio, Hyypiä, Sjölund and Forsell tamely shooting straight at Farkad Veliyev in the Azerbaijan goal.

The tifo before the game was Litmanen in ‘guevara like’ pose, which i must say pissed me off a little. The guy’s played 2 games in a year, and concentrating on him seems a bit disrespectful to the other players. Hodgson thought so too, as the first question from a Finnish journalist in his press conference was about Litmanen, rather than the other players:

“I’m disappointed that the first question is about Jari. He’s a fantastic player, and I understand that he’s your national idol, but it was a team performance and I’d like to talk about the other players before we start discussing Jari.”

He’s got a point, as the chances came throughout the 90 minutes and were not dependent on Litmanen. He later pointed out that he’s a fantastic player, he brought calmness and class to the side and it’s amazing that he can play like that without any match practice, and that he wouldn’t have been nearly as effective if played from the start and denied the room he found in the last 20 minutes.

It was very funny to see the Azeris dominate the press conference at the start. they asked about the referee, whether Finland deserved the win (yes, really), and how Hodgson’s expectations changed after the first goal. They like to talk, and Roy commented that it’s good they were there because the Finns hardly ask him anything.

I have some pictures and videos of the fans, who were excellent today. Hodgson was disappointed with the number (10,325), but very pleased with their support.

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2 Responses

  1. “The tifo before the game was Litmanen in ‘guevara like’ pose, which i must say pissed me off a little. The guy’s played 2 games in a year, and concentrating on him seems a bit disrespectful to the other players.”

    On the other hand, it’s possible that this was Litmanen’s last game for national team in Finland. If Litmanen really will retire from national team after Euro2008, this tifo was just the right thing.

  2. Fair enough, it’s good to pay tribute to key players. And the Litmanen tifo did look good (pictures to follow). But he’s just one player, and to focus on him is a bit negative for the rest of the team, if taken too far, in my opinion.

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