My Big Fat Greek Football match: Lithuania remains winless for 2013
Alex Tigani | The Lithuania Tribune
The Lithuanian national football team commenced the second half of its FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign in a nail-biting 0:1 defeat against football powerhouse Greece.
When Lithuania lined up for the Himnas (national anthem) just a few minutes prior to kick-off, the significance of its match had struck.
They would be representing their country, in desperate need of a win for World Cup qualification, against a football powerhouse which had a world-class ranking (16th in the world).
However, with 8,500 of Vilnius’ finest fans singing over their shoulders, the Lithuanians knew it was time triumph over the Hellahs – just like they did in 1995 across the Neris river at the old Žalgiris Stadium.
The absence of head goalkeeper and two time Lithuanian footballer of the year, Žydrūnas Karčemarskas would not be a problem for Manager Csaba Lazlo who promoted Emilijus Zubas following his remarkable form in the Polish league this year.
Just sixteen minutes into the match Zubas stamped his authority with Greece’s Theofanis Gekas who’s misconduct and cheeky shepherding technique led to a fiery altercation following a corner kick.
Lithuania’s midfielders would be caught off guard three minutes later however as José Holebas jolted down the broadcasting wing, crossing a cleverly crafted ball for teammate Lazaros Christodoulopoulos to score.
Christodoulopoulos, who is a regular in Bologna’s line-up in the Serie-A (Italian League) had not scored a goal for his national team until that point in time.
Lithuania 0:1 Greece.
The home side’s Captain, and Lithuanian footballer of the year for 2009 and 2010, Marius Stankevičius had a chance to level the scores at the 29th minute mark.
Unfortunately, his free kick directly on goal would drift a metre above the cross bar.
After receiving a yellow card in the first half the visitors’ Captain Georgios Karagounis was almost able to redeem, crossing the ball for a Gekas ‘header’ goal.
Gekas’ header would not be able to get past Zubas in just his 2nd International game for Lithuania.
Minutes later Lithuanian Kęstutis Ivaškevičius responded with a long range shot for Lithuania however the 27-year-old’s shot would decrease its speed on impact toward goal.
Ivaškevičius would muster up Lithuania’s closest opportunity yet at the 59th minute mark by dribbling the ball between three Greek defenders before launching a strike from a similar position.
Though Greece’s goal-keeper was unable to reach the ball in his defensive box, the shot would drift an arm’s length to the right of goal; a false alarm for the Lithuanian fans on the merge of celebration.
Greece’s dominance around the ball would be strengthened with the substitution Gekas for Dimitris Salpingidis, a veteran International football in his 67th match for Greece.
Lithuania would do the opposite a few plays later, omitting veteran midfielder Saulius Mikoliūnas in his 58th International cap for Artūras Žulpa.
Žulpa, who has been influential as a midfielder for Žalgiris Vilnius so far this season, would make his debut for Lithuania’s national side that night having only played in nine previous games for his nation’s U21 team prior.
However his milestone would be dampened as Greece continued to control the flow of the match.
Tadas Eliošius and Deividas Česnauskis were also granted game time in the 86th minute however by then Lithuania had lost its composure.
Greece was unlucky not to finish off the match with a desperately needed 2:0 scoreline after a Salpingidis bullet shot would escape the reach of Zubas, only to deflect off the cross bar.
The remaining group G matches saw Bosnia & Herzegovina thrash Latvia 5:0 while Slovakia bounced back from a well contested Liechtenstein to record a 1:1 draw.
Full game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRH1tXy0ETg
07.06.2013. 21:45. Vilnius. LFF. 8500. Olegario BENQUERENCA (Portugal).
LITHUANIA - GREECE 0:1 (0:1).
g. 20' Lazaros CHRISTODOUPOULOS.
LTU: 1-Emilijus ZUBAS [GKS Belchatow (POL)], 20-Valdemar BOROVSKIJ [Skonto Riga (LVA)], 4-Tadas KIJANSKAS [Korona Kielce (POL)], 5-Tomas MIKUCKIS [SKA-Energia Khabarovsk (RUS)], 13-Saulius MIKOLIUNAS [FC Sevastopol (UKR)] (73' 19-Arturas ZULPA [VMFD Zalgiris Vilnius]), 23-Marius STANKEVICIUS [SSC Lazio Roma (ITA)], 8-Edgaras CESNAUSKIS [FC Rostov (RUS)], 14-Kestutis IVASKEVICIUS [Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv [ISR)] (86' 7-Deividas CESNAUSKIS [FC Baki (AZE)]), 17-Mindaugas KALONAS [Ravan Baki (AZE)], 18-Mindaugas PANKA [Ruch Chorzow (POL)], 9-Deivydas MATULEVICIUS [CS Pandurii Targu Jiu (ROM)] (86' 11-Tadas ELIOSIUS [Atlantas Klaipeda]).
Coach: Csaba LASZLO (HUN). Captain: Marius STANKEVICIUS. Substitudes:12-Paulius GRYBAUSKAS [Skonto Riga (LVA)], 3-Vaidotas SILENAS [VMFD Zalgiris Vilnius], 6-Mantas KUKLYS [VMFD Zalgiris Vilnius], 14-Andrius BARTKUS [Atlantas Klaipeda], 15-Arunas KLIMAVICIUS [Zhetysu Taldykorgan (KAZ)], 17-Vytautas LUKSA [Polonia Warszaw (POL)], 21-Egidijus VAITKUNAS [VMFD Zalgiris Vilnius], 22-Fiodoras CERNYCH [Dnepr Mogilyov (BLR)].
GRE: 1-Orestis KARNEZIS [Panathinaikos FC Athens], 2-Giannis MANIATIS [Olympiacos FC Piraeus], 4-Kostas MANOLAS [Olympiacos FC Piraeus], 15-Vasilis TOROSIDIS [AS Roma (ITA)], 19-Sokratis PAPASTHATHOPOULOS [Werder Bremen (GER)], 20-Jose HOLEBAS [Olympiacos FC Piraeus] (45+1' 3-Giorgios TSAVELAS [AS Monaco (FRA)]), 21-Kostas KATSOURANIS [PAOK FC Thessaloniki ] (85' 6-Alexandros TZIOLIS [APOEL Nicosia (CYP)]), 10-Giorgios KARAGOUNIS [Fulham FC (ENG)], 16-Lazaros CHRISTODOUPOULOS [Bologna FC (ITA)], 17-Theofanis GEKAS [Akhisar Belediyespor GS (TUR)] (65' 14-Dimitris SALPINGIDIS [PAOK FC Thessaloniki]), 7-Giorgios SAMARAS [Celtic FC Glasgow (SCO)].
Coach: Fernando SANTOS (POR). Captain: Giorgios KARAGOUNIS. Substitudes: 13-Michalis SIFAKIS [Charleroi SC (BEL)], 8-Panagiotis KONE [Bologna FC (ITA)], 9-Kostas MITROGLOU [Olympiacos FC Piraeus], 11-Loukas VYNTRA [Levante UD Valencia (ESP)], 18-Sotiris NINIS [Parma FC (ITA)], 22-Kostas FORTOUNIS [1.FC Kaiserslautern (GER)], 23-Panagiotis TACHTSIDIS [AS Roma (ITA)].
Booked: 58' Edgaras CESNAUSKIS; 35' Giorgios KARAGOUNIS, 55' Giorgios SAMARAS, 78' Dimitris SALPINGIDIS.
2013 Lithuanian National Men’s Fixture:
Latvia v Lithuania (6 September, 2013)
Lithuania v Liechtenstein (10September, 2013)
Lithuania v Latvia (11 October, 2013)
Lithuania v Bosnia & Herzegovina (15 October, 2013)