Two goals from Andrejs Rubins helped Latvia come from behind to finish their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying campaign with a 3-2 home win over ten-man Moldova to secure third place in Group 2.
Latvia had only the remotest chance of snatching a place in the finals tonight and despite their victory, results elsewhere ensured they will not be going to South Africa next summer. Moldova remained bottom after their seventh defeat of a winless campaign.
Heavy rain and wind did not prevent an entertaining match in front of a crowd of a 3,800 crowd at Skonto Stadium. Moldova began well, and midway through the first half the Latvians found themselves behind.
Pacy Gheorghi Ovseannicov beat Andris Vanins with a volley, converting Valerii Catinsus's precise cross from the right. But the visitors were left with ten men five minutes later, after captain Serghei Lascencov received a straight red card for handling a promising through-ball by Latvia captain Vitalijs Astafjevs, who was tonight equalling Martin Reim's all-time European record 157 international caps.
Two minutes later, his team were level. Andrejs Rubins found the bottom corner from a free-kick and a minute before the break, the same man put Latvia ahead with another low shot after good work by Maris Verpakovskis. Substitute Kristaps Grebis needed only eight minutes to increase the lead as he finished from close range after a cross by another substitute, Gendijs Soloicins.
Moldova managed to reduce the deficit just before the final whistle. Substitute Veaceslav Sofroni decided to try his luck from distance and got it right with a fierce shot, deflected in off Kaspars Gorkss.