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Late Spalvis header spares Lithuania blushes

Lithuania 2-1 San Marino
Drawing with seven minutes remaining in their opening Group 1 qualifier, Lithuania took all three points thanks to Lukas Spalvis's header.

Lithuania (in yellow) are off to a winning start in the 2013–15 competition
Lithuania (in yellow) are off to a winning start in the 2013–15 competition ©Saulius Čirba

Lukas Spalvis spared Lithuania's blushes in their opening UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group 1 qualifier, heading in the winner against San Marino with seven minutes remaining.

Lithuania seemed on course for a straightforward victory against the nation that lost nine of their ten qualifiers for the 2013 finals when, after eight minutes, Ovidijus Verbickas finished off a swift attack with a strike over Elia Benedettini from the edge of the penalty area.

Unbowed, the visitors soon levelled through Juri Biordi, who capitalised on uncertainty in the Lithuania penalty box following Manuel Battistini's corner.

Though Lithuania dominated possession after the break, clear-cut openings remained scarce, with Benedettini brilliantly preventing Simonas Stankevičius from converting one of the few chances that came the hosts' way.

Spalvis, though, saved the day with time running out, directing a close-range header into the net from Ernestas Veliulis's left-wing cross.