SK Liepājas Metalurgs won the Latvian title for a second time on Sunday, with a 1-1 draw against their main rivals, UEFA Europa League contenders FK Ventspils, leaving them safe at the top with a game to go.
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SK Liepājas Metalurgs won the Latvian title for a second time on Sunday, with a 1-1 draw against their main rivals FK Ventspils leaving them safe at the top with a game to go.
Rüdiger Abramczik's needed only to avoid defeat at home against the side that had won the previous three Virsliga titles to be sure of finishing top, and did just enough against an under-strength Ventspils side, with coach Nunzio Zavettieri choosing to rest players ahead of their UEFA Europa League trip to Sporting Clube de Portugal on Thursday. Metalurgs claimed their first crown in 2005.
Andrejs Butriks gave Ventspils a 17th-minute lead in Liepaja from a direct free-kick with their hosts falling prey to nerves in the opening period, and Metalurgs had a further setback after the break with Andrejs Prohorenkovs having his leg broken in a hard challenge. Relief came in the 78th minute, however, as they were awarded a penalty following Aleksandrs Solovjovs' handball, with Kristaps Grebis converting.
Former West Germany striker Abramczik said afterwards: "Before the break our football was far from good. I had to say do some shouting in the dressing room at half-time but it seems that it worked out well." The 53-year-old added: "We really gave it our all for the whole season. During the campaign we lost some leaders, but young, inexperienced players managed to replace them. Winning a national title is always tough. The Italian league is much stronger than Latvian one, but I suppose I would win Serie A if I had players as good as José Mourinho has at Internazionale."