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Lithuania salvage a point

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

[1] Lithuania came from behind to salvage a point against Bosnia-Herzegovina to keep their FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 7 hopes intact despite playing for 35 minutes with ten men.

Stankevicius dismissal

[2] Marius Stankevicius was both the hero and villain of the piece, cancelling out Elvir Bolic's first-half opener just after the hour before he was shown the red card in a frenetic encounter in Sarajevo. But despite the numerical advantage, the home side could not capitalise to breathe life into their own faltering campaign and their hopes of qualification are now slim.

Rasping drive

[3] The match began very differently for Bosnia-Herzegovina, who showed few ill effects of their 4-1 defeat by Belgium on Saturday. With Zvjezdan Misimovic replacing Elvir Baljic in midfield, and Velimir Vidic coming in to buttress the back line, the home team pressed from the kick off and took the lead on 21 minutes when Bolic struck a fizzing long-range drive past goalkeeper Zydrunas Karcemarkas.

Defensive foundations

[4] Despite continuing to press, neither Bolic nor his side could build on their lead against a defence that had conceded a solitary goal in their four qualifiers before tonight. Indeed, much of Lithuania's problems have been an inability to score, typified by their narrow 1-0 victory against San Marino at the weekend.

Unlikely equaliser

[5] Algimantas Liubinskas was able to recall both Robertas PoŇ°kus and OGC Nice's Edgaras Jankauskas after recovering from injury but although the visitors began to press, neither could produce a decent shot on goal. When the equaliser did arrive, it came from the unlikely source of Brescia Calcio defender Stankevicius, who rose well to head in Deividas Cesnauskis' free-kick from close range.

Disallowed goal

[6] But the centre-back could not marry his poise in the air with his poise on the pitch and four minutes later he was dismissed after an off-the-ball incident. The home side dominated possession from then on, but the late onslaught failed to materialise, although they did have a last-gasp goal disallowed when Zlatan Bajramovic was adjudged to have handled the ball.

Spain test

[7] Lithuania return to action on 4 June against Spain, with whom they remain level on nine points after the Iberians' encounter with group leaders Serbia and Montenegro ended in deadlock. Bosnia-Herzegovina are fifth after collecting just three points in their campaign, but they will be hopeful of doubling the tally in their next outing against San Marino.

Zlatan Bajramovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina with the ball at his feet against Lithuania