Skonto FC established a European record by winning their 13th consecutive Latvian First Division championship.
Draw clinches title
A 0-0 draw at second-placed FHK Liepajas Metalurgs gave Skonto the point they needed to continue their monopoly of the title, dating back to the first independent post-Soviet league of 1991. Norway's Rosenborg BK recently equalled Skonto's existing European record of 12 championships in a row, but this triumph gives the Riga side sole possession of that honour.
The visitors set out to wrap up the title with a victory, but Metalurgs goalkeeper Alexei Krutz was on fine form, producing saves from Levan Korgalidze and Mihails Miholap, while Zurab Menteshashvili hit the post. In the second half the home team moved forward, looking for the win they required to stay in contention for the final day, but Andrejs Piedels's superb last-minute stop from Oskars Kliava ensured Skonto their celebration with a match to spare.
After the game, victorious Skonto coach Aleksandrs Starkovs said: "
I am happy that we are champions again and our victory is well deserved. I am delighted that we managed to take our last step towards the title against our main rivals. I thought we could have easily won the game after the first half, but a draw was a golden result for us and I am still glad."
Champions League chance
Skonto now have a chance to improve on their showing in this season's UEFA Champions League, when they departed in the first qualifying round against Malta's Sliema Wanderers FC. Guaranteed runners-up spot, Metalurgs will enter the 2004/05 UEFA Cup first qualifying round along with Latvian Cup winners FK Ventspils, who beat Skonto 4-0 in September's final. FK RKB-Arma will be relegated after a year in the top flight.
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