VILNIUS — While most football fans in the Baltics have been transfixed watching this year’s upset-filled World Cup, the Triobet Baltic League championship Sunday proved a match as exciting as any in South Africa this summer.
On Marijampolė’s simple grass football field that looks little different than those adjacent to most high schools, Latvia’s FK Ventspils and Lithuania’s Sūduva duked it out for this year’s Triobet championship with Ventspils coming out on top after Sūduva managed a dramatic comeback in the final seconds of both regular and extra time to force the game into penalty kicks.
It wasn’t until 82 minutes in that Ventspils’ Alexandru Dedov finally something on the scoreboard, putting the visitors up 1-0. However, at 90 minutes the hosts answered back with a goal from striker Ričardas Beniušis who was substituted in only 19 minutes earlier.
That tacked an extra 30 minutes onto game time, during which both teams managed to score twice despite the low-scoring 90 minutes. Ventspils managed to put two up in the first few minutes of play with a penalty kick quickly followed by a successful drive headed by Nigerian midfielder Michael Tukura, but Sūduva answered back 15 minutes later when Beniušis headed in a corner kick and in the last minute Andrius Urbšys fired a low shot into goal, which had the home crowd on their feet celebrating.
That brought the game to penalty kicks, during which both teams shot in three but when Urbšys hit the poll on Sūduva’s fourth go at it after Ventspils made the its fourth, Ventspils’ Grigory Chirkin made the 5th for the Latvians ending the game.
Triobet fans will have to wait until fall for more intra-Baltic football but in the meantime the UEFA games are on.
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