Lithuania has been the only Baltic nation able to record a win, following the latest round of international football friendlies played on Wednesday, Aug. 10. Hosting Armenia in Kaunas, Lithuania took just eight minutes to go ahead 1-0 before scoring two goals in a spate of five minutes late in the second half to seal the comfortable victory. It acted as a confidence booster for the Lithuanians who, in their last European Championship qualifying game in June, suffered an embarrassing 2-0 away loss to minnows Lichtenstein before losing a friendly match away to Norway 1-0. The news, however, was not so good for Latvia and Estonia. Also playing at home against Finland, Latvia could not make the most of their limited opportunities – the best coming in the 55th minute when Maris Verpakovskis rattled the cross-bar with his shot from outside the box. Finland, however, would be a lot more productive with their opportunities, scoring in the 59th and again in the 88th minute. It was a particularly disappointing result for former Arsenal player Igors Stepanovs, who participated in the first five minutes of the match to bring up his hundredth international appearance for Latvia. The highs of beating Uruguay back in March now seem like nothing more than a far off memory for the Estonians, with their latest loss, a 3-0 drubbing away to Turkey, extending their losing streak to five matches. In the losing streak that began with a 3-0 loss to Italy in June, Estonia has failed to even score a goal, whilst conceding 15, including two to the Faroe Islands in their most recent European Championship qualifying match in June.
A new look Dinamo Riga side has lost their first pre-season game ahead of the up and coming Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) season. Playing against former trainer Julius Supler’s CSKA Moscow in Liepaja on Saturday evening, Dinamo Riga could only manage one goal on their way to a 4-1 loss. While a number of new players were appearing for Dinamo Riga for the first time, it was two more familiar faces who were combining for their side’s only goal in the 28th minute, as Andis Dzerins provided the assist for Robert Bukarts. The goal tied the game at one apiece following on from CSKA’s opening goal in the 13th minute, but it would be close as Dinamo Riga would come to victory with CSKA scoring again in the 37th, 48th and 59th minutes. Dinamo Riga’s season preparations continue on Saturday, Aug. 19, when they travel to Lappeenranta in Finland to play local team SaiPa Lappeenranta.
Latvian Ernests Gulbis’ good form of late has come to an end in the opening round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, USA. After qualifying to make it through to the main draw of the ATP 1000 event, 22-year-old Gulbis on Tuesday afternoon met his match in Croatian Ivan Dodig, another player who has been displaying good form of late, having last week beaten world no. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain. Despite pushing Dodig to break point on three occasions in the opening set, it was the Croat who was making better use of his limited opportunities, breaking Gulbis on the one occasion the opportunity arose. The one break would prove enough to earn Dodig the opening set. In the second, Gulbis claimed the advantage first, breaking Dodig to go 4-2 up. But Dodig wasted little time breaking back, doing so in the very next game to put the set back on serve, where it would remain, and forcing a tie-breaker to decide the set. It was at this stage that Gulbis wilted, with Dodig easily accounting for Gulbis, 7-3, to take the set and the match 6-4, 7-6 (3). Despite the loss, a round of 16 appearance in Montreal last week – where he lost to runner up Mardy Fish – has seen Gulbis move back into the world’s top 50 for the first time since April.