Panevezys, LITHUANIA – Lithuanian football team Ekranas has produced its best result ever, qualifying for the third qualifying round on the road to the UEFA Champions League.
On Tuesday evening Ekranas held off Maltese club Valletta 1-0 at home to give them an aggregate score of 4-2, seeing them move past the second qualifying round for the first time ever. Ekranas had previously reached the second qualifying round on three previous occasions and the first round on one occasion.
Playing in the first leg away on Tuesday July 12, Ekranas put themselves in the driving seat by halftime thanks to three first half goals from new import Uchenna Umeh, captain Dainius Gleveckas and Ramunas Radavicius.
However complacency in the second half would prove costly with Valletta allowed to score twice – with the second goal coming in the first minute of extra time – to leave them within a chance going into the second leg a week later.
Missing from Ekranas’ lineup in the return match was captain Gleveckas but doing a stellar effort at filling out the captaincy role was Ignas Deduras, heading home in just the fifth minute of play to put his side 4-2 up on aggregate, much to the pleasure of a near sell out home crowd.
As the game progressed Valletta came into it more, threatening on a number of occasions but never being able to make the breakthrough they so desired.
In the third qualifying round, Ekranas will host Belarusian club Bate Barisov on the first leg on either July 26 or 27 with the return leg taking place a week later.