Lithuania suffer shock Euro 2012 loss to Liechtenstein

Nicolas Hasler and Philippe Erne celebrate against Lithuania
Philippe Erne (right) gave Liechtenstein an early lead in Vaduz

Lithuania's hopes of challenging Czech Republic and Scotland for second place in Euro 2012 qualifying Group I have suffered a blow after a shock defeat.

Liechtenstein achieved their first competitive victory since October 2007 with a 2-0 win in Vaduz.

Defeat leaves Lithuania equal on points with the third-top Scots, who have played one game less than the rest.

The Czechs are five points ahead, with Spain almost certain to win the group, having a six-point lead at the top.

Lithuania coach Raimondas Zutautas had gone into the match in Liechtenstein without Hearts captain Marius Zaliukas.

The defender's end of season had been disrupted by injury and by being mysteriously dropped by Hearts at the behest of owner Vladimir Romanov.

Zaliukas told Zutautas that he did not wish to play in the Euro 2012 qualifier because of fatigue, but the coach insisted that he had sufficient defensive cover.

Former Dunfermline Athletic centre-half Andrius Skerla, now of Jagiellonia Białystok, was one of several players with Scottish connections who did feature.

Saulius Mikoliunas, presently with Arsenal Kiev, started the game, while former Hearts team-mate Deividas Cesnauskis, now of Aris, came on at half-time.

By that time, Philippe Erne had given the hosts a sixth-minute lead with a rising 20-yard drive and Michele Polverino had clinically added the second in the 36th minute after being set up by Franz Burgmeier.

Lithuania, spearheaded by Livorno striker Tomas Danilevicius, who had spells with Arsenal and Dunfermline, failed to make their possession count at Rheinpark Stadium despite having 21 efforts on goal and forcing 10 corners.

The victory - only their fourth in European qualifying history - was the first time Liechtenstein had avoided defeat in the current campaign and lifts them to within a point of Lithuania with the reverse fixture to come on Friday 2 September.

Scotland host the Czech Republic the following day in what is increasingly looking like a two-horse race for a play-off place, while Lithuania visit Hampden the following Tuesday.

Craig Levein's Scots, who struggled to a 2-1 win over Liechtenstein at Hampden in September, travel to face the group minnows on 8 October and finish their campaign in Spain three days later.

The Czechs host Spain on 7 October before travelling to face Lithuania, who held the Scots to a 0-0 draw in September.

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