Having seen two free-kick routines come off in the farewell loss by Portugal, Gratas Sirgedas believes Lithuania will benefit from playing "the strongest teams in Europe".
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Lithuania bowed out of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship having lost all three Group A games, but they had the consolation of their last kick in the competition being a memorable one as Gratas Sirgedas rifled in a fine goal.
That added-time strike was the midfielder's second of the night at the S Darius & S. Girėnas Stadium, both coming from free-kicks, and, though it was enough only to reduce the final arrears against Portugal to 4-2, it at least gave Sirgedas a measure of satisfaction. "The game was not a great one, because four goals conceded is not a good result," he said. "Obviously I'm happy with my goals, but it's a pity about the ones we conceded."
Both Lithuania goals came from Sirgedas' cultured left foot, the first a wickedly curling free-kick delivered from the right that found the corner of the net, and the second a clever routine involving a reverse pass from Simonas Stankevičius that allowed Sirgedas to score from the edge of the area. "The first free-kick was half-shot, half-cross," Sirgedas explained. "We've been working on set pieces like that in training and I'm happy I was able to score one. The second goal was also a prepared move."
Those strikes swelled Sirgedas' tournament tally to three goals – three-quarters of Lithuania's total – following his matchday one strike against the Netherlands. That is enough to make him the finals' joint top scorer after the group stage, a source of personal pride. "These goals mean a lot to me, especially to my career, and I'm also happy that I have helped the team in some way," he said.
Having come on as a substitute in Lithuania's first two matches before playing 90 minutes against the Portuguese, Sirgedas was full of praise for the Group A runners-up. "Portugal were really strong physically – probably the strongest of all three teams we played – and also technically and individually," he said.
"Maybe we lacked the energy to keep up with them," added the 18-year-old, who nevertheless feels there are plenty of positives to be gained from the experience of participating in the finals. "I don't think the championship is a failure for us. We've played some of the strongest teams in Europe."