More European heartbreak for Derry City in Lithuania
Candystripes concede in extra-time of Europa qualifier as FK Riteriai progress
Riteriai’s Lezama Arteaga is challenged by Derry’s Adam Hammill. Saulius Cirba/Inpho
FK Riteriai 3 Derry City 2 (AET)
A momentary lapse in concentration cost Derry City dearly in Vilnius on Tuesday night, the Candystripes crashing out of the Europa League at the first hurdle.
For many observers, FK Riteriai were not expected to win this one given their poor domestic record this season, but the Lithaunians stood up to the challenge earning in the region of €240,000 in the process.
With the score delicately balanced at 2-2 on 90 minutes, Riteriai striker Donatas Kaziauskas burst forward on the left flank during the opening minute of extra-time and his sublime lob floated beyond the reach of goalkeeper Peter Cherrie to give his side a 3-2 advantage.
Derry, having already bounced back from a 2-1 deficit, failed to find further reserves of energy and they failed to breach the Riteriai defence for a third time.
Declan Devine’s side had deservedly broken the deadlock in the 17th minute, taking full advantage of the home defence’s failure to deal with a deep cross from the left.
Fullback Ciaran Coll delivered the danger, the ball knocked down by lone striker Ibraham Meite into the path of Joe Thomson and the former Celtic youth player drove it low into the corner from 14 yards.
The Scot’s first goal for the Foyleside club settled the visitors and Declan Devine’s charges appeared to be comfortable in vital areas.
However, the home side stunned the Candystripes with an equalising goal in the 38th minute - their first serious threat on the Derry goal.
Mindaugas Grigaravicius broke on the right flank to find Donatas Kaziauskas and his inch-perfect centre was met by the head of striker Gytis Paslauskas who powered the ball home.
And it got worse for the Foylesiders following the change of ends when the Lithuanians moved into the driving seat just four minutes into the second half.
Grigaravicius floated the free-kick into the 18-yard box and, for the second time, Riteriai’s 20-year-old hitman rose majestically to meet the ball, his downward header finding the bottom corner of Cherrie’s net.
Just as the home side seemed content to sit back and defend their slender advantage, Derry’s pressure paid off.
As the game moved into the latter minutes, the Riteriai goalscorer went close to turning a Hammill low cross into his own net and the home side breathed a sigh of relief.
Disaster then struck in the first minute of extra-time when Riteriai grabbed the lead for a second time and Derry were in trouble.
FK Riteriai: Sirnaitis, Kalermo, Dombrauskis (Godwin, 101) (Ramanauskas, 88), Ronniel, Matzinskas, Sveikauskas, Traore (Kodz, 75), Grigaravicius, Kazialuskas, Paulauskas (Rokas, 101).
Derry City: Cherrie; Horgan, Toal, Cole, Coll; McCormack; Dunwoody (Mallon 56), Hammill, Thomson. (Clifford, 74, Bruna 110), Akintunde; Meite (Harkin, 84).
Referee: T Pikkarainen (Finland)