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Season review: Lithuania

Published: Tuesday 10 November 2009, 16.02CET
FK Ekranas pipped surprise package FK Vėtra to the A Lyga title on the final day, FK Sūduva won a cup double but disappointed in the league and four debutants arrived in the top flight.
by Kestutis Gimbutas
from Vilnius
Season review: Lithuania
Ekranas celebrate defending their title ©Mindaugas Kulbis
Published: Tuesday 10 November 2009, 16.02CET

Season review: Lithuania

FK Ekranas pipped surprise package FK Vėtra to the A Lyga title on the final day, FK Sūduva won a cup double but disappointed in the league and four debutants arrived in the top flight.

FK Ekranas pipped surprise package FK Vėtra to the A Lyga title on the final day, FK Sūduva won a cup double but disappointed in the league and four debutants arrived in the top flight.

Champions: FK Ekranas
Ekranas defended their title in style, suffering just one defeat en route to a final-day showdown against Vėtra, the only side that could catch them. A 2-1 victory saw them finish six points clear at the summit with the most prolific attack (58) and the meanest defence (20). "It turned out to be a demanding season for us," said coach Valdas Urbonas. "Now I can say that it's twice as difficult to win the title twice than to win it once."

Cup final: FK Sūduva 1-0 FK Tauras
Ramūnas Radavičius scored the only goal as Sūduva saw off Tauras to claim the second Lithuanian Cup in the club's history and add to the Lithuanian Super Cup they had secured at the beginning of the season. In so doing, they earned a berth in next term's UEFA Europa League second qualifying round.

Player of the Year: Valdas Trakys (FK Ekranas)
The 30-year-old striker experienced his second youth and was unstoppable in attack for the champions, setting a personal record of 20 goals in a season. He was particularly impressive in the second half of the campaign, scoring 15 times including twice in the title-deciding fixture against Vėtra. "It is not easy to score 20 goals in one season, I can tell you," he said. "These goals got me back into the national side."

One to watch: Povilas Valinčius (FK Vėtra)
The goalkeeper played every minute of Vėtra's campaign and was particularly eye-catching in keeping six successive clean sheets during August and September. His impressive positioning and lightning reactions earned him a place in the Lithuania Under-21 squad.

Surprise package: FK Vėtra
Before the league began, few considered Vėtra to be among the favourites. However, Virginijus Liubšys created an efficient team who remained in contention for the title until the last day and eventually finished runners-up for the first time in their history. "Luck turned its back on us on the last day," said Liubšys. "But I can only thank the team for the whole season as they yearned for gold."

Leading scorer: Valdas Trakys, FK Ekranas (20)

Number: 37
The 37-year-old Ekranas captain Deimantas Bička was the oldest player in the league, winning his second title with his hometown club. He also became Lithuanian champion in 1997 and 1998 with FK Kareda. "I suppose that was my last season," he said. "But sometimes I catch myself thinking: 'Is it really the end?'"

Quote
"The most difficult thing this season was that everyone was hanging gold medals around our necks even before the league started. It would have been a tragedy if we had failed to win the title."
Ekranas striker and top scorer Trakys.

Last updated: 21/02/11 14.54CET

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