FK Žalgiris surpassed expectations in their UEFA Europa league third qualifying away at Sevilla FC. A brilliant free-kick by Even Banega was the only goal scored by the Spanish team as Žalgiris defender heroically and were event left to rue their missed opportunities.
It was historic match as the first ever meeting beetween Lithuanian and Spanish clubs in UEFA competitions. Scorching heat meant the game was played very late in the evening but still the temperature reached around 30 degrees celsius.
Early on Sevilla had most of the ball and Žalgiris goalkeeper Džiugas Bartkus had two great saves from Nolito and Wissam Ben Yedder. The former also came close with a strike in the box.
Just as the Žalgiris were getting back in to the game the home side scored from a free-kick on 34 minutes. Banega curled the ball expertly from 30 meters in to the top corner.
Bartkus again saved a Nolito shot from close range while Žalgiris had two great chances before the break. A counter-attack saw Donovan Slijngard cross for the unmarked Tomaš Šimkovič, but his first time volley bounced off the ground in to goalkeeper’s arms. Just a minute later Šimkovič set up Ogana for a one-on-one but the Nigerian’s strike was blocked by Sevilla goalkeeper Tomaš Vaclik, and on the follow up Šimkovič dragged his shot wide.
In the second half Žalgiris played with more and more intent, as Sevilla failed to create any clear cut chances. Mid-way through the half the Vilnius club had another golden opportunity as Ogana found Liviu Antal in the box, the Romanian dribbled past a defender but struck too close to the keeper.
Sevilla made some substitutions and Luis Muriel became a threat as he had a shot saved from Bartkus, and also struck just past the post. Bartkus was on fire and he saved from Guilherme Arana, while Ben Yedder’s header was tame and off target. The Lithuanian club’s defence held up well late in the game to keep the tie still at balance.
After negotiating a Spanish SuperCup tie with FC Barcelona on the weekend, Sevilla will travel to Vilnius for the second leg on August 16th. Winners of this tie will face Czech side Sigma or Kazakh club Kairat in the play-off round.
Sevilla FC - FK Žalgiris 1:0 (1:0)
Goal: 34 min. E. Banega (Sevilla).
Bookings: 59 min. M. Mbodj, 64 min. T. Šimkovič (Žalgiris).
Sevilla: T.Vaclík, J.Gnagnon, D. Carriço, J. Berrocal, G. Arana, E. Banega (74 min. Ganso), I. Amadou, A. Vidal, Pejiño (59 min. L.Muriel), Nolito (74 min. P. Sarabia), W.B. Yedder. Substitutes: J.Soriano, S. Corchia, S.Gómez, S.Escudero.
D.Bartkus, D.Slijngard, M.Tomič, M.Mbodj, R.Baravykas, S.Blagojevič, J.Manzorro (76 min. D. Šimkus), T.Šimkovič, S.Mikoliūnas (74 min. S. Nyuadzi), L.Antal (89 min. V. Filipov), L. Ogana. Substitutes: A.Vitkauskas, L.Klimavičius, Marquinhos, T. Malec.