VMFD Žalgiris have retained the Lithuanian Cup after outwitting FC Šiauliai on penalties at the end of an enthralling 3-3 stalemate in Kaunas.
The side from Vilnius, who ended their nine-year wait for a trophy by lifting the cup last term, were helpless to prevent their opponents racing into a fifth-minute lead as Arminas Vaskela rifled in. The midfielder's joy was short-lived, however, as Andro Švrljuga turned in Ramūnas Radavičius' centre to level eight minutes later.
Šiauliai, who looked dangerous on the counter throughout, wrestled back the initiative when Marko Raso escaped Žalgiris defender Marko Raso and slotted in, before Andrius Skerla headed a swift equaliser to conclude a breathless first half.
Žalgiris failed to convert a litany of second-half opportunities and were left reeling when Vedran Gerc found the net a minute into extra time. Žalgiris reacted by introducing Tomas Birškys and the decision paid rich dividends when the midfielder levelled to force penalties.
A dramatic shoot-out ensued with Žalgiris defender Egidijus Vaitkūnas converting the decisive spot kick at the ninth attempt after Deivydas Lunskis had been denied by goalkeeper Armantas Vitkauskas.
"It was a very interesting game for all football supporters. It had all the elements of a great final, including goals and lots of drama" said Žalgiris boss Marek Zub. "I was calm during the shoot-out because Vitkauskas saved us last year, but today everyone contributed to the win."
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