Set for fateful evening in the Nations League after disappointment: Finland cruised against Romania – at the same time the chance for the group victory disappeared

Finland’s weak Nations League continues. It was only 1-1 against Romania – and now it will be a fateful night in Podgorica on Monday. Everything from second place to relegation is possible.

“We have to turn up the efficiency”, has run like a mantra between the mouths of the Finnish national team players during the first half of the Nations League gathering.

The rather tame effort in June has been chewed over by the national team captain Markku Kanerva and his colleagues all summer. “Score on the chances”, was thus the simplistic conclusion when it came to the offensive.

Teemu Pukki’s early 1–0 goal against Romania was a response to that order, but another goal from the men’s national team’s goalscorer didn’t go all the way.

A lackluster Romania equalised, the game ending 1-1 – a disappointment for Finland and a result that ensures a dramatic final round of the Nations League group.

Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Montenegro 1-0 in Zenica and secured victory in the group, promotion to the A division of the Nations League and a guaranteed playoff spot for the 2024 European Championship in Germany.

Behind the Bosnians, it can go either way. Montenegro (seven points), Finland (five points) and Romania (four points) make up the rest on Monday.

Finland’s conditions are quite clear: victory in Podgorica secures second place in the group, loss means you have to trust Bosnia-Herzegovina to be motivated and defeat Romania. Romanian win and Finnish loss lead to relegation from the B division.

Two exclamation points in eleven

With a rather awkward starting position in the group, Finland’s idea was to go out offensively, and that was the reason behind Kanerva’s two exclamation marks in the starting eleven.

During the tight gathering in June, Onni Valakari got a total of 23 minutes and was stuck in the freezer. Now he went straight into the starting eleven as a creative midfielder.

In front of him, he had Fredrik Jensen in the attack. It had been almost two years since the last start in a competitive international game for Jensen, but now he got the chance – and at the same time a dream was fulfilled when older brother Richard Jensen started in the defensive line.

Image: Lehtikuva / Jussi Nukari

Valakari had an assist for the lead when he collected a Romanian clearance and served Teemu Pukki. Pukki was the safety himself when he scored his 37th goal for the national team in the twelfth minute.

Romanian equaliser, immediately after the break

The finish did not give Finland air under its wings. If the plan was to dominate, it had to be revised as Romania had more of the ball.

For half an hour it wasn’t particularly dangerous, but in the 32nd minute, Romania got three (!) huge chances in half a minute. Deian Sorescu hit the post, a cross hit the crossbar and a header slipped just wide.

Finland’s goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky was warned – and it didn’t take many minutes after the break for Romania to equalise. Florin Tanase drilled in 1-1 at the first post after a play where Leo Väisänen missed the mark.

The receipt prompted Kanerva to act immediately. He replaced his starters Jensen and Valakari, with Benjamin Källman up top and Lucas Lingman in the middle – and the changes had a decent bite.

Finland got a certain grip on the game again, but the minutes flew by without the home team creating much. Källman had the best position after a quick attack, but the finish went wide.

When the Spanish referee blew the whistle, nobody was really happy. In addition, there is a big risk that Finland went on a heavy break in the final stage: balance player Rasmus Schüller injured his hamstring and was forced to step off.

The text is updated!

Nations League

B Division, Group 3:

Finland–Romania 1–1 (1–0)
12′ Teemu Pukki 1–0
52′ Florin Tanase 1–1

Finland (5–3–2): Lukas Hradecky (mv) – Jere Uronen (87′ Ilmari Niskanen), Richard Jensen, Robert Ivanov, Leo Väisänen, Nikolai Alho – Onni Valakari (57′ Lucas Lingman), Rasmus Schüller (v, 87′ Kaan Kairinen), Glen Kamara ( v) – Teemu Pukki (75′ Joel Pohjanpalo), Fredrik Jensen (57′ Benjamin Källman).

Romania (4–3–3): Ionut Radu (mv) – Nicosor Bancu, Adrian Rus (v), Ionut Nedelcearu, Andrei Ratiu – Razvan Marin (90′ Alexandru Cicaldau), Marius Marin (v), Florin Tanase (67′ Nicolae Stanciu) – Deian Sorescu (79′ Denis Dragus), Denis Alibec (67′ George Puscas), Dennis Man (67′ Andrei Cordea).

Audience: 20,130.

Bosnia-Herzegovina–Montenegro 1–0 (1–0)

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