A Tomas Razanauskas equaliser earned Lithuania an unexpected 1-1 draw against Germany in the Frankenstadion in Nürnberg in UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying Group 5.
Despite falling behind to an seventh-minute Carsten Ramelow goal, Lithuania never held firm in the face of sustained Germany pressure in the closing stages to earn what was described by coach Algimantas Liubenskas as "the biggest result in our footballing history".
The home side began brightly and might have taken the lead after four minutes, but Torsten Frings' header was comfortably saved by Gintaras Stauce. However, three minutes later Germany did go in front, as a deep right-wing cross found Bernd Schneider inside the penalty area and his lay-off gave Jörg Böhme a shooting chance. His low effort was heading wide, but Ramelow cleverly backheeled into the net.
The goal seemed to inspire Germany and they might have doubled their advantage immediately, but Fredi Bobic shot over from a narrow angle before Frings saw another header saved. Schneider then went close with a spectacular solo strike, picking the ball up inside his own half and, with defenders backing away, dribbling to the edge of the opposing penalty area only to pull his shot wide.
However, the visitors visibly grew in confidence as the half wore on, and should have drawn level after 28 minutes. Igoris Morinas did well to keep the ball in play inside the penalty area and his cross picked out Saulis Mikalajunas unmarked in front of goal. However, the midfield player seemed taken by surprise, and could only watch as the ball bounced off him and over the crossbar with Oliver Kahn helpless.
The home side were largely reduced to long-range efforts for the remainder of their half and rarely threatened. The second half began in similar fashion, but Germany believed they had doubled their lead after 72 minutes, as Klose sidefooted a low cross from Bobic into an unguarded net. However, the strike was ruled out as the assistant referee adjudged that the ball had already crossed the goal line. A minute later Lithuania were level, as Razanauskas picked up the ball on the edge of the area and beat Tobias Rau before keeping his composure to give Kahn no chance.
Klose missed a great chance to restore Germany's lead five minutes later as the ball broke to him inside area, but his low shot hit the legs of Stauce and deflected wide. As Germany pushed forward in search of a winner, Saulius Mikalajunas nearly exploited the extra space nine minutes from time, but his shot was punched clear by Kahn.
"We have lost two points," concluded Germany coach Rudi Völler. "We didn't deserve to win today. You can't afford to take any opponent lightly these days. We learned that lesson again today. Maybe it was a wake-up call at the right time." Klose agreed, saying: "We are all very dissapointed. We started well but after 15 minutes we just stopped playing football."
Liubenskas in rapture
Liubenskas, by contrast, was delighted. "This is the biggest result in our footballing history," he said. "At half-time we told the boys not to concede a goal and get a goal and that is exactly what we did. Now we are hoping to get a result against Scotland."