Šernas helps Lithuania surprise Czech Republic
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Czech Republic 0-1 Lithuania
Darvydas Šernas's first-half header and Žydrūnas Karčemarskas's penalty save gave Lithuania victory.
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Lithuania claimed their first UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group I win and a maiden triumph against the Czech Republic as Darvydas Šernas's first-half goal proved enough for a 1-0 victory in Olomouc.
The visitors had lost all four previous encounters with the Czechs but Šernas produced a powerful 26th-minute header to put the visitors ahead before goalkeeper Žydrūnas Karčemarskas saved a Milan Baroš penalty just before the break. That took Lithuania's tally to four points from two games as Michal Bílek's first competitive game as Czech coach ended in disappointment.
Karčemarskas – who kept a clean sheet in Friday's 0-0 draw with Scotland – was called upon in the opening exchanges, notably to paw away a Baroš header and then smother smartly when Martin Fenin had sprung free of the visitors' defence. But Lithuania's play showed increasing poise after the home side had failed to capitalise on an adrenalin-fuelled start.
When Marius Stankevičius's overlapping run ended with a perfectly-delivered centre, Šernas squeezed in between two defenders to head emphatically beyond Petr Čech. Jaroslav Plašil fired the home response in the form of a low drive that Karčemarskas parried, and the Lithuania keeper ensured his team would lead at the break when, after Tadas Kijanskas had felled Fenin, he guessed right to push away Baroš's well-struck if not perfectly-placed spot-kick.
Having crafted an advantage, Lithuania appeared content to allow the Czech Republic to try and break them down. The home side proved ponderous in the final third, though Plašil arced a powerful shot wide after Tomáš Rosický's alert pass had teed him up with the Lithuanian rearguard – for once – on their heels.
The Czech Republic persisted, and substitute Tomáš Necid snapped a half-volley over the bar following clever interplay between Rosický and Baroš. Necid might have had an equaliser in added time, but hit his close-range shot against Karčemarskas. Next for Lithuania is a visit to holders Spain on 8 October, when Scotland come to Prague.