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Season review: Lithuania

Published: Wednesday 26 December 2001, 15.04CET
The only thing not in doubt in Lithuanian football was FBK Kaunas's total dominance of the 1.Lyga.

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Published: Wednesday 26 December 2001, 15.04CET

Season review: Lithuania

The only thing not in doubt in Lithuanian football was FBK Kaunas's total dominance of the 1.Lyga.

In a confusing season in Lithuania, the only thing not in doubt was FBK Kaunas's total dominance of the 1.Lyga.

Early glory
Kaunas finished the season 16 points clear of second-placed FK Atlantas and were crowned as league champions with two weeks of the season to go. The only disappointment for the champions is that they did not actually win the game that saw them attain such early glory.

Decisive draw
The decisive match in October saw Kaunas draw 0-0 with Atlantas while FK Zalgiris Vilnius, then in second place, suffered a surprise derby defeat by local rivals FK Vetra. For the remainder of the season, the only great mystery was as to who would qualify for a place in the UEFA Cup by finishing second.

Battle for second slot
That particular battle went right down to the wire and Atlantas only scraped their way into the competition on the last day of the season by the narrowest of margins. Atlantas's 0-0 draw with the bottom club, FK Dainava, was enough to see them claim the runners-up slot, but Zalgiris went down fighting with a 4-3 win against FK Gelezinis-Vilkas.

Two teams excluded
The most fraught part of the Lithuanian season was at the start, however, because of a number of rule and name changes. Both FK Kareda and FK Polonija were excluded from the 1.Lyga because they were feeder clubs for Kaunas and Zalgiras respectively. Geleznis and FK Klevas took their place in the top flight, though the latter changed their name to FK Sakalas before the start of the season. FK Atletas-Inkaras also changed their name - to FK Inkaras. FK Laisve had to turn down an opportunity to join the Lithuanian first division because of financial problems.

Vetra thwarted
The name changes and surprise promotions did not seem to cause too many problems for the clubs concerned and it was FK Vetra and FK Dainava who were eventually relegated in November, though the former missed the opportunity to secure safety on the final day by drawing 0-0 with Sakalas. A win would have seen Vetra leapfrog the club sitting third from bottom to secure another season in the top flight.

Last updated: 15/11/12 22.39CET

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