FK Ekranas have clinched their third consecutive Lithuanian championship title with one match remaining this term after seeing off FC Šiauliai 2-1 on Sunday.
Ekranas needed to prevail to extend their lead to an unassailable eight points, with closest rivals VMFD Žalgiris boasting a game in hand, and they did precisely that in front of a season's record crowd of 4,700. Egidijus Varnas put the home side ahead on 23 minutes and Deimantas Bička then doubled the advantage seven minutes after half-time, before a late Igors Kozlovs penalty reduced the deficit.
The victory secured Ekranas's sixth crown overall and made it three titles in three seasons since coach Valdas Urbonas was appointed in 2008. "It's a special victory and a special achievement to win three times in a row," he said. "The match was tense and a win was vital for us. We controlled the game, but the end wasn't easy because of the goal we conceded. The players had the right determination and enthusiasm today."
Ekranas also won the Lithuanian Cup this year, but they still regret failing to progress further on the European front. "We wanted to have a better run in the UEFA Champions league," said Urbonas, referring to his side's second qualifying round extra-time defeat by HJK Helsinki. "We were unlucky in that tie. The players have been feeling the disappointment of that defeat all season since."
Midfielder Dominykas Galkevičius told UEFA.com he had expected a difficult ride, despite Ekranas being clear favourites at the start of the campaign. "We had to fight almost to the end," he said. "There were ups and downs during the season, some difficult matches and defeats, but that's how you learn. Everyone wanted to win against the champions and they made it hard for us, but we were the strongest this season."
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