Scotland had never scored in this nation before, let alone won. But last night, on their third trip here in eight years, Christian Dailly got them off the mark and Kenny Miller made certain of the three points that put them at the top of the toughest Euro 2008 qualifying section this morning.
Darius Miceika, a late substitute, snatched a consolation to leave the Tartan Army with their hearts in the mouths as the game came to a close. But at the final whistle, they rose as one, intoxicated as much by two successive victories as by the Lithuanian lager they had been downing merrily across the city all day.
Six points from six is realistically what Scotland need to give themselves a prayer of qualifying. They have them, but the manner in which three were won last night - with guts and, later, skill, after losing two men to injury in the first half - was particularly pleasing for Walter Smith.
"It was bit tense near the end but you cannot ask for more than we've achieved so far," the coach said. "We're winning back some respect for ourselves."
The build-up was marred by concerns about the playing surface after several days of rain here. Under threat of sanctions from Uefa, the Lithuanian authorities patched it up in time for kick-off but it was far from pristine.
Neither was the venue. At capacity, it houses up to 10,000 people in its two-and-a-half concrete stands. One side is open, or to be more precise, is a forest. Last night there were armed men in uniform patrolling between the floodlight towers along the perimeter fence. It had more than a hint of The Great Escape about it - apt given Scotland's hopes of going through from Group B.
Smith changed his starting line-up, as expected, swapping the 4-3-3 that swept aside the Faroe Islands to a form of 3-5-2, with Kris Boyd dropped to the bench and James McFadden playing just off Miller.
Solidity was the aim but it worked for only two minutes before a purposeful Lithuania won their first corner, and chance, a header by Tomas Zvirgzdauskas. Only Gary Naysmith's nod off the line prevented a goal.
Scotland had as good a chance at the other end within moments, with Miller crossing for Nigel Quashie, whose shot was saved. However, McFadden soon sustained a knock that led to his substitution, Graham Alexander coming on to take Dailly's right wing-back role, with Dailly moving to a holding role and Miller taking lone striker duties.
The Celtic man ran tirelessly but also earned a booking for a foul on Marius Stankevicius that will rule him out of the next match, against France at Hampden Park next month.
Quashie offered as much goal threat as anyone in the first half but he, too, then succumbed to injury. On came Boyd, but it was not the Rangers striker - four goals in his previous three caps - who bagged the opener, but Dailly, who bustled in to nod down a Naysmith corner a minute after the interval. Naysmith provided the second, from a free-kick inside his own half. It sailed over Boyd and Miller, who darted in different directions, bamboozling the defence, allowing Miller to track the bounce and then thump home a volley.
Lithuania (4-4-2): Karcemarkas (Dynamo Moscow); Stankevicius (Brescia), Skerla (Tom Tomsk), Zvirgzdauskas (Halmstad), Dziaukstas (Saturn Ramenskoye); Mikoliunas (Hearts), Savenas (Ekranas Panevezys), Preiksaitis (Vetra Vilnius), Kalonas (Metalurgs Liepaja); Poskus (Dynamo Moscow), Danilevicius (AC Livorno). Substitutes used: Tamosauskas (Metalurgs Liepaga) for Savenas, 52; Labukas (Zalgiris Vilnius) for Mikoliunas, 66; D Miceika (Metalurgs Liepaja) for Preiksaitis, 81.
Scotland (3-5-1-1): Gordon (Hearts); Weir (Everton), Pressley (Hearts), Caldwell (Celtic); Dailly (West Ham), Fletcher (Manchester United), Hartley (Hearts), Quashie (West Bromwich), Naysmith (Everton); McFadden (Everton); Miller (Celtic). Substitutes used: Alexander (Preston North End) for McFadden, 22; Boyd (Rangers) for Quashie, 43; Severin (Aberdeen) for Hartley, 89.
Referee: V Hrinak (Slovakia).Reuse content