Baltic clubs start so-so in Europe

Portadown's Richard Lecky (18) vies for the ball from Skonto.

JELGAVA, Latvia — Three Baltic team featured on the opening day of UEFA football for the 2010/2011 season, with two ties and a loss.

Thursday marked the beginning of 2010/2011 qualification for Europe’s second tier footballing competition, the UEFA Europa League.

In something of a drawn out qualifying process, yesterday’s opening qualifying day featured football clubs that typically finished second or third in their respective national competition last season. To move onto the the next stage of qualification, the clubs first need to win on home and away aggregate, with the return leg scheduled for next week.

One club from each of the Baltic states were on display on Thursday. Estonian club FC Flora played away to FC Dinamo Tbilisi; Latvian club Skonto was away to Portadown and Lithuanian club Tauras played away to Llanelli.

Flora were able to grab the early advantage over Tbilisi with a first half goal to Alo Dupikov in just the 9th minute but the hosts then went on to score the next two to take the game 2-1. The away goal will prove valuable when they return home to play the return leg next week.

Skonto will be more confident following a 1-1 tie with Portadown of Northern Ireland. Portadown controlled most facets of the game but a dramatic goal to Juris Laizāns three minutes into extra time was a massive blow to the Northern Irish.

News was even better for Tauras with Marius Kižys’ two goals within the opening 25 minutes assisting his side to a 2-2 tie with hosts Llanelli, giving them a handy advantage with the return leg to come.

All second leg games will take place next Thursday.

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