Žalgiris make early goals count

FK Žalgiris Vilnius 2-0 Portadown FC (agg: 4-2) Strikes on five and 19 minutes prove decisive.

By Kestas Gimbutas at Žalgiris stadium

Two early goals for FK Žalgiris Vilnius proved enough to take the Lithuanian side past Portadown FC and into the UEFA Cup second qualifying round.

Acute angle
The teams had drawn 2-2 in Northern Ireland, but Žalgiris had their noses in front after five minutes tonight when Anton Naumov floated a free-kick into the penalty box for defender Tomas Mikuckis to head in from an acute angle.

Lead doubled
Peter McCann had a chance to equalise, but could not trouble home goalkeeper Mindaugas Malinauskas. And on 19 minutes Žalgiris striker Vidas Kaušpadas doubled the advantage with a shot from just inside the box.

Collins dismissed
Three minutes after falling 2-0 behind Portadown's prospects took a further blow in the 22nd minute when Michael Collins was sent off after first being booked for a heavy challenge then cautioned again for throwing the ball at an opponent. The visitors were shaken by the loss and Žalgiris continued to control the game.

Lindsam heads wide
Portadown did fashion one decent opening though, when two minutes before the break the unmarked Kris Lindsam headed wide.And after half-time the visitors began to have more influence as Žalgiris sat back on their lead.

Portadown bow out
Vincent Arkins hit the bar with a header from Wesley Boyle's cross on 63 minutes and Gary Hamilton also came close. The home side could only muster a couple of long-range shots as the match petered out and they eased into Friday's draw

'Too relaxed'
Nonetheless, Žalgiris coach Kestutis Latoža admitted to some jitters. "It was very nervy for us after the break, we were too relaxed," he said. His counterpart, Ronald McFall, believed the right team had prevailed, saying: "Žalgiris played some fast and flowing football and deservedly won."