Finland secured their UEFA Nations League (UNL) Group B status, beating Montenegro 2-0 thanks to quickfire second half goals from Oliver Antman and Benjamin Källman. Finland were also aided by red cards for Žarko Tomašević and manager Miodrag Radulović.
After Romania’s victory against group leaders Bosnia, nothing short of a victory would do for Finland, and they were allowed to control the early tempo. Markku Kanerva granted a first outing to 21-year-old Antman after impressing for Norwegian outfit FC Nordsjaelland, and he almost repaid the faith instantaneously, finding space in a tightly congested box before unleashing a wicked effort forcing Milan Mijatović into a smart save.
The previous H2H in June was a timid affair with one solitary yellow card – meagre in comparison to what was about to ensue in dealing Finland the upper hand. The Brave Falcons’ experienced centre-half Tomašević saw red for piling into Teemu Pukki only eight minutes after receiving a first yellow in similar circumstances, arriving alongside a further four first half cards as the home side fumed.
Despite their numerical disadvantage the home side held firm during the first half, with pressure mounting as the minutes ticked by. But Antman was on hand to lift the weight of the world two minutes into the second half, making amends after spurning his earlier chance. This time Mijatović had no chance as he fired first time across him into the bottom right.
Finland smelt blood, and Källman showcased his poacher’s instinct six minutes later, heading home from close range after the ball had zipped off the wet surface over Mijatović’s outstretched arm. It was a timely end to three away UNL defeats in a row for Finland, who wish they could play Montenegro every week after securing their only clean sheets in their last 10 against this evening’s opposition.