Lithuania Wins World Cup Soccer Qualifier
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) _ Substitute Orestas Buitkus scored two second-half goals as Lithuania beat Macedonia 2-1 Saturday, but its scant hopes of advancing to the World Cup playoffs were extinguished.
Lithuania had a mathematical chance of moving ahead in Group 8 if Ireland lost massively to Romania, but the Irish fought Romania to a 1-1 draw in Dublin.
Playing in heavy rain, Lithuania began with a distinctively defensive game and rarely attacked or seriously ventured into Macedonia turf.
That backfired in the last minute of the first half when Macedonia’s midfielder Srdjan Zaharijevski managed to send the ball precisely to Artim Saciri who controlled it on his chest and instantly fired a volley into the left side of the net.
This radicalized Lithuanians in the second half. They brought in Buitkus, who scored in the 69th minute on a free kick while the Macedonians were still trying to organize a wall.
In the 83rd minute, Macedonian goalkeeper Danco Celeski clumsily dropped the ball after blocking a Lithuanian thrust. Buitkus pounced on the mistake and scored easily from a short distance.
The game was played in heavy rain at Skopje’s City Stadium on a soaked, slippery pitch before 5,000 fans.
Macedonia _ Danco Celeski, Igor Sasa Nikolovski, Ljupco Markovski, Zoran Jovanovski, Nedzmedin Memedi (Zoran Miserdovski, 72nd), Srdjan Zaharijevski, Dzevdet Sainovski, Viktor Trenevski, Gjorgi Hristov, Artim Saciri, Zoran Sedlovski.
Lithuania _ Gintras Stauce, Dairus Gleveckas, Andrejus Pereskinas, Andrius Skerla (Orestas Buitkus, 46th), Marius Skinderis, Raimondas Zutautas, Saulius Mikalajunas, Aidas Praksaitis, Vaidotas Slekys, Virginijus Baltusnikas (Edgaras Jankauskas, 88th), Irmantas Stumbrys (Tomas Ramelis, 89th).