After both edging through to the second qualifying round last week, Latvia’s FK Zalgiris and Swedish counterparts Malmo meet in the first leg of their latest Champions League qualifying tie on Tuesday.
While the visitors came out on top in an enthralling tussle with Vikingur – winning 6-5 on aggregate – it took their hosts an intense period of extra time to see off Kosovan champions KF Ballkani.
Eventually, though, the A Lyga champions managed to steal a place in the next stage of Champions League qualifying, as Nigerian striker Mathias Oyewusi struck in the seventh minute of extra time at LFF Stadium.
Zalgiris are now targeting a first-ever group stage qualification, having won the Lithuanian league title for the ninth time last season, and hope to fare better than their attempt this time last year.
The Vilnius outfit were eliminated in the second qualifying round, before losing in the third round of the Europa League preliminaries and then to Bodo/Glimt in the playoffs for entry to the inaugural Europa Conference League.
Twelve months on, in defence of their domestic crown, Vladimir Cheburin‘s side have racked up 41 points from 18 league games to sit top of the table by two points, with two games in hand.
Their most recent fixtures have been postponed, to allow them to concentrate on European engagements, but Cheburin had steered his team to four straight A Lyga wins before the meeting with Ballkani. In the Champions League, however, Zalgiris are owners of a past record that includes 11 defeats and just six wins from 20 matches.