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HJK end Ekranas hopes at the death

HJK Helsinki 2-0 FK Ekranas (aet, agg: 2-1)
An own goal from Andrius Šidlauskas in the penultimate minute of extra time completed a second-leg turnaround for the Finnish champions.

Antti Muurinen's HJK side left it late to beat Ekranas
Antti Muurinen's HJK side left it late to beat Ekranas ©Jussi Eskola

An Andrius Šidlauskas own goal in the penultimate minute of extra time condemned FK Ekranas to a 2-0 defeat and completed a dramatic second-leg turnaround for HJK Helsinki to set up a third qualifying round tie against FK Partizan.

Ekranas's 1-0 win in Lithuania last week looked like being sufficient for 77 minutes of the return in Helsinki, especially with the hosts down to ten men, before Juhani Ojala struck to force an extra half an hour. Ekranas also had a man sent off before the end of regulation time and though Valdas Urbonas's side continued to hold their own, they were undone at the death when Šidlauskas inadvertently put through his own net.

The drama contrasted with a sedate first half with both sides focused on stout defence. HJK showed the first signs of real ambition, with Jarno Parikka's wayward shot the best effort of the opening 45 minutes and Antti Muurinen's charges carried that momentum into the second period until Dawda Bah's dismissal ten minutes after the restart abruptly halted it.

They nevertheless drew level on aggregate through Ojala's header and received a further fillip when Giedrius Tomkevičius was sent off three minutes from full time. The tie looked destined for penalties after a cautious extra 30 minutes, but in the dying seconds Šidlauskas turned Sebastian Sorsa's corner past Tadas Kauneckas as the home support erupted.

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