Latvia round-up: Skonto take twelfth title

FC Skonto secured a European record 12th consecutive title in a thrilling finish to the season.

FC Skonto are maintained their monopoly on the post-Soviet era Latvian championship after beating third-placed FHK Liepajas Metalurgs 3-1, as challengers FK Ventspils were held 1-1 by FC Dinaburg.

European record
Skonto became domestic title-winners for a European record 12 times in a row by two points with their victory, Vladimirs Kolesnicenko proving outstanding in their midfield. Orests Buitkus put Skonto ahead on eleven minutes, a lead they held until just after the hour when Kristaps Grebis levelled the scores. However, Maris Verpakovskis restored the lead four minutes later and Latvian Under-19 international Igors Semjonovs sealed the win with a stunning reflex header with little over a quarter of an hour remaining.

Ventspils held in snow
Skonto were able to celebrate with news the Ventspils had failed to win at Dinaburg and force a play-off for the title on Wednesday. Ventspils coach Paul Ashworth was unhappy that ground staff had not cleared heavy snow from the pitch, and was even less pleased when his side fell behind two minutes in through Dmitrijs Kohans. Ashworth then saw his goalkeeper Deniss Romanovs sent off on 24 minutes for bringing down Pavels Kolcovs, and although his side levelled through a Vladimirs Melniks own goal ten minutes from the end, they could not fashion a winner.

'All credit to Skonto'
The Ventspils coach concentrated on the achievements of their victorious title rivals after the game, saying: "All credit to Skonto. They have won the most games and got more points. From a coaching and playing point of view it has been a successful season. We have also managed more points than any other team apart from Skonto in the history of the Latvian league. But, of course, I am very disappointed."

Relegation for Auda
FK Auda Riga's debut season in the Virsliga ended in relegation after a 3-1 defeat by Policijas FK, who would have been pulled into a play-off to stay in the division had they lost themselves. Vitalijs Puzirevskis's first-half double virtually sealed Auda's fate, and although Magne Varviks pulled one back, Aleksandrs Musajevs ensured PFK's victory and their visitors' demotion.

Riga survive
FK Riga remain in the top flight, three points ahead of Auda, despite losing their last game 2-1 at home to SK Valmiera, who secured fifth place.