This weekend marked the start of a new season for Latvia’s premier club football competition. After a long offseason, eight teams came back to form the group that would vie for the Virsliga title from now until November. Current champions FK Ventspils were joined by runner-ups Skonto FC, FK Jelgava, FK Liepāja, BFC Daugavpils, Spartaks Jūrmala, FS Metta, in addition to newly-promoted FB Gulbene.
The first round of the 2015 campaign kicked off with Skonto travelling to Liepaāja on Friday. A hotly-contested match ended 3-2 to to the hosts. Toms Gucs scored the opening goal of the campaign with a 20′ strike to put Liepāja up 1-0. However the lead was short-lived, with new signing Aleksejs Visnakovs drawing the visitors level 10 minutes later. Despite sacrificing a lead, the home side delivered the crushing blow early in the second half. First FC Metz midfielder Janis Ikaunieks’s brother Davis put Liepāja up 2-1 before veteran teammate Valērijs Afanasjevs put the win out of reach of Skonto with a neat goal. Youngster Nikita Ivanovs grabbed a late consolation goal and his first for his new club to wrap the match up at 3-2. This is Liepāja’s fifth-straight season kickoff victory.
Saturday featured two matches- FS Metta hosting current league holders Ventspils and Daugavpils vs Jelgava. Ventspils came away with a 3-0 win in a match whose outcome was never in any doubt. The match started off on a bad note for the home side as former Cesena defender Aleksejs Gilnics put the ball into his own net and the visitors up 1-0. Another blunder by Metta resulted in Jurijs Žigajevs slotting in goal number 2 from the penalty spot soon after the start of the second half. Mauritanian forward Cheikh Diagne completed the rout with a strike at the death to bump the score to 3-0. In the other match of the day, BFC Daugavpils played at home against Jelgava. A evenly matched contest was decided by a goal from Jelgava’s Boriss Bogdaškins, who managed to slot the ball past journeyman keeper Aleksandrs Vlasovs.
The weekend wrapped up with Spartaks Jūrmala playing at new Virsliga side Gulbene. The travelling side opening the scoring through Colombian Kevin Mena, before Kazakhstan’s Sergey Gridin and Nigerian winger Ahmed Abdultaofik scored within five minutes of each other to put the game beyond Gulbene’s reach.
As it stands, Jūrmala and Ventspils jointly occupy the top spot on goal difference with Liepāja and Jelgava just behind with goal differences of 1 apiece.
Play resumes Friday with Liepāja-Jūrmala.