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Jaakkola earns second international cap for Finland

Stopper plays the duration against Liechtenstein in Turku

8 June 2017

Royals stopper Anssi Jaakkola earned his second international cap for Finland on Wednesday - precisely six years to the day since making his previous senior international appearance!

The Royals goalkeeper helped his nation to a 1-1 draw against Liechtenstein in a friendly fixture in Turku - the visitors were without fellow Royal Sandro Wieser.

The game acted as a run-out for the Finns ahead of their World Cup 2018 qualifier against Ukraine on Sunday in Tampere; they have only managed to earn a single point at the mid-point of their Group I qualifying campaign, so a visit to Russia next summer is looking unlikely.

Our stopper's only previous cap came against Sweden in 2011; he was overworked that afternoon against their neighbours, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic bagged a hat-trick in a 5-0 win.

And Anssi, who has been regularly involved in the international set-up, got the nod for the Huuhkajat on Wednesday afternoon, preferred to regular starter Lukas Hradecky of Eintracht Frankfurt.  Ultimately he could consider himself unlucky not to be on the winning side, as the visitors managed to make the most of a gifted chance to earn a draw.

Parity lasted less than 17 minutes.  Robin Lod's whipped, inswinging free-kick from the right-hand side was dangerous, but it was the non-existant marking which allowed Mehmet Hetemaj to ghost in for Finland and steer in a header from close range.

Finland were unable to create a bigger margin; at the other end, Jaakkola was called into action on a couple of occasions to make some smart stops to keep out the Liechtensteiners.  But just after the hour-mark they stole level.

While Finland were on the attack, a careless backwards-pass by sub Teemu Pukki allowed visiting forward Nicolas Hasler a chance to run one-on-one at a defender... that's not to take anything away from the finish, as the striker shimmied to buy a yard of space on the edge of the D and arrowed a low shot past the dive of Jaakkola to level things up.

A late flurry for the Finns amounted to nothing, as Oxford goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel remained relatively untested in the closing stages as Finland had to settle for a draw.

As well as Jaakkola's Finland facing Ukraine on Sunday, there are other Royals with vested interest in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in the UEFA section; Deniss Rakels' Latvia meet Portugal on Friday, while Chris Gunter and Wales will be hoping to keep up their push for successive tournament qualification when they visit Serbia on Saturday.

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