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Heartbreak as Derry City suffer Europa League exit after extra-time in Lithuania

Midfielder Donatas Kazlauskas netted the winning goal for FK Riteriai.

Derry's Conor McCormack with Valdas Paulauskas of Riteriai.
Derry's Conor McCormack with Valdas Paulauskas of Riteriai.
Image: Saulius Cirba/INPHO

DERRY CITY’S EUROPEAN adventure has come to an end after 3-2 extra-time defeat in Lithuania against FK Riteriai.

Lithuanian international Donatas Kazlauskas struck the winning goal in the first minute of extra-time with a curling effort. 

The sides were deadlocked at 2-2 after an entertaining 90 minutes.

Declan Devine’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division side went to the LFF Stadium quietly fancying their chances against an outfit that struggled for form of late.

The Candystripes enjoyed a strong opening period, and 18 minutes in, they were rewarded for their promising start.

Joe Thompson fired home an 18th-minute goal off the back of a long ball into the penalty area. Ibrahim Meite knocked down the incoming ball and former Celtic midfielder Thompson made no mistake with his first touch, before drilling the ball into the bottom right-hand corner with his second.

From there, Riteriai came into the game a little more, with Lajo Traore and Mindaugas Grigaravicius both coming close — and 39 minutes in, their efforts paid off as Valdas Paulauskas cancelled out Thompson’s opener.

A poor goal to give away, Paulauskas was at the near post to poke the ball in from a cross, while Derry keeper Peter Cherrie really should have done better to keep it out.

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Having equalised matters, Riteriai looked much more dangerous as the break approached, with the visitors in desperate need of the half-time whistle. After an entertaining opening period, the game lay in the balance ahead of the second 45.

Three minutes in, the hosts went ahead, again through Paulauskas — who got his head on the end of a 35-yard free-kick after some poor Derry City marking. 

Despite trailing, Devine’s side soon took control of the game once again, pushing for an all-important equaliser. While nothing came for quite some time, a period of sustained pressure soon paid off after former Liverpool man Adam Hammill and 21-year-old Eoin Toal linked up.

The latter was on target with a header, coming off a stunning cross from the former in the 63rd minute.

The sides stayed level until extra-time, when Kazlauskas hit the net from the edge of the penalty area. Derry searched for a leveller that never arrived in the remainder of extra-time and head home empty-handed. 

RITERIAI: Simaitis, Dombrauskis, Sveikauskas, Malzinskas, Kalermo, Traore (Kodz, 77) Barauskas, Kazlauskas, Lezama Arteaga, Paulauskas, Grigaravicius

DERRY CITY: Cherrie, Cole, Coll, Hammill, Horgan, Akintunde, Dunwoody (Mallon, 56), McCormack, Toal, Meite, Thomson

 

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