VILNIUS - Group 7 leaders Serbia and Montenegro stayed on course for next year's World Cup finals with a convincing 2-0 win against Lithuania on Oct. 7. If they win their final home game against Bosnia-Herzegovina, they will secure a place in Germany.
"We have come a very long way in this qualifying campaign and there is no room for euphoria because the job isn't done yet," said head coach Ilija Petkovic after the win. "This is a great opportunity and I hope that we will rise to the occasion on Wednesday to give the whole country plenty to cheer about."
During what turned out to be a perfectly crisp autumn night in Vilnius' Vetra Stadium, Serbia and Montenegro dominated from the start. A quiet fell over the stadium - packed with fans from both sides - as Mateja Kezman scored an effortless goal at the end of the first half. This set the pace of the game, most of which was in the Balkan team's favor.
Although Lithuania made some close attempts to score, they continuously lost the ball to Serbia-Monenengro's defenders. Zvonimir Vukic sealed the Balkan victory with a crisp shot two minutes from time.
After last week's loss, Lithuania doesn't even have a theoretical chance to make it to the World Cup. The Baltic state also lost 0-2 to Serbia-Montenegro on Sep. 3.
As for Serbia-Montenegro, the win could give them the confidence to qualify for their first major event since the UEFA Euro 2000.
"[The game against Bosnia] is the most important match of our lives and I am convinced that we will beat Bosnia to send the entire nation into rapture," Kezman said. "We mustn't squander this chance to make the World Cup finals."
After nine games, Lithuania has the second-to-last position in its group with nine points. Serbia and Montenegro ranks first with 19 points, two more than Spain and three ahead of the Bosnians. Lithuania will play its last game against Belgium in Vilnius.