Latvia earned their first UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying win in convincing fashion as they put four goals past Iceland in Riga.
Jurijs Andrejevs' men bounced back from last month's home defeat by Sweden as they took full advantage of their opportunities against an Iceland team who have now lost twice in succession, following an opening Group F victory in Northern Ireland. In so doing, Latvia moved into fourth place in the section, ahead of Spain and Iceland on goal difference.
Latvia, who were surprise qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2004™, gained a 14th-minute lead through Girts Karlsons, who turned Juris Laizans's right-wing cross into the net. A second goal followed 60 seconds later when Maris Verpakovskis headed home following good work down the left by Genadijs Solonicins. By the 25-minute mark it was 3-0 as, from a Solonicins corner, Oskars Klava's near-post header forced Árni Arason to save and FC Dynamo Kyiv striker Verpakovskis tucked away the rebound.
Gudjohnsen goes close
Despite the shock of finding themselves so far behind, Iceland tried to find a way back into the match and, in the 28th minute, FC Barcelona forward Eidur Gudjohnsen fired in a shot from distance which was tipped around the post by Aleksandrs Kolinko in the Latvia goal. Gudjohnsen threatened again shortly after the restart, letting fly a fierce drive from the edge of the box but for a second time Kolinko denied him.
Višnakovs seals win
A minute later the ball was nestling in the bottom of the Iceland net as a long-range effort by Aleksejs Višnakovs beat Arason to confirm Latvia's victory. If that summed up the visitors' day, they did not give up and both Hannes Sigurdsson and substitute Veigar Páll Gunnarsson tested Kolinko. Iceland will hope for better at home against Sweden on Wednesday, when Latvia visit Northern Ireland.