Spalvis rescues Lithuania after San Marino scare

Lithuania 2-1 San Marino
Lukas Spalvis's added-time winner broke San Marino hearts as the visitors were denied a second-ever competitive away draw.

Highlights: Lithuania 2-1 San Marino
  • 92nd-minute Lukas Spalvis goal snatches late win for Lithuania
  • San Marino end run of 34 competitive away matches without scoring
  • Thumping Matteo Vitaioli free-kick is visitors' first on travels since 2001
  • Hosts three points off third-placed Slovenia
  • Next games: Slovenia v Lithuania, Switzerland v San Marino (9 October)

San Marino scored in a competitive away fixture for the first time in over 14 years yet still suffered defeat thanks to Lukas Spalvis's stoppage-time decider in this UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group E contest.

Matteo Vitaioli notched what was only the visitors' fifth-ever competitive away goal to bring the scores level following Fiodor Černych's early opener for the hosts. Pierangelo Manzaroli's men therefore looked set for just a second-ever competitive away draw until Spalvis touched in a late winner to keep Lithuania in with an outside chance of a play-off spot. 

Against opponents who had lost their last 34 competitive away games it was no surprise to see the home side start on top and San Marino goalkeeper Elia Benedettini had already repelled an Arvydas Novikovas free-kick before Černych's seventh-minute opener. It came from a sweetly timed volley from a corner which the No22 caught perfectly for the ball to whistle into the net.

Novikovas and Černych both headed over good chances to double the lead before Spalvis should have done far better when sent clean through. It appeared only a matter of time before a second arrived as Benedettini excellently denied Černych at the end of the first period, yet the match took a twist in the 50th minute when home keeper Giedrius Arlauskis brought down Danilo Rinaldi and received a red card.

San Marino celebrate their first competitive away goal since 2001
San Marino celebrate their first competitive away goal since 2001©AFP/Getty Images

Vitaioli lined up the resulting free-kick and crashed his effort through the wall and into the net to score his country's first competitive away goal since April 2001.

Despite being down to ten Lithuania roared back and Benedettini needed to be at his best to rebuff fierce attempts from both Novikovas and Linas Pilibaitis. The late sending-off of Nicola Chiaruzzi brought further pressure on the visiting goal and Spalvis snatched all three points for Igoris Pankratjevas's team when he knocked in an inswinging Novikovas cross to prevent San Marino from avoiding defeat for just the second time in a competitive away fixture.