Ger O'Brien's first goal for St Patrick's Athletic saw Liam Buckley's side earn a deserved draw against Lithuanian league leaders VMFD Zalgiris in Vilnius. Pavel Komolov and Kamil Bilinski were on target for the hosts, but Pat's twice came from behind through Conan Byrne and O'Brien to bring a good result back to Richmond Park.
It didn't take long for the Saints to adapt to the artificial surface, leading to an entertaining opening period at the LFF Stadium. Christy Fagan had the first chance for the visitors, but was well blocked when bearing down on goal. A free-kick in a dangerous position had the away fans on the edge of their seats, but Killian Brennan could not keep his effort down.
Zalgiris created a few chances of their own and punished some poor defending to take a 22nd minute lead. A throw-in wasn't closed down, giving Pavel Komolov plenty of time in the box to manoeuvre into a shooting position and blast the ball into the net.
The Saints' best chance fell to Conan Byrne, who broke free of the last defender, but the attacker squandered his chance by shooting straight at Vitkauskas. The goal gave Zalgiris plenty of confidence, but they couldn't get men on the end of crosses despite Mantas Kuklys impressing for the hosts.
Liam Buckley's men grabbed an equaliser 10 minutes into the second-half when Greg Bolger found Conan Byrne with an excellent ball out wide. Byrne did well to get the ball past the onrushing Vitkauskas to level the tie and give Pat's an away goal.
However, the Saints fell victim to more poor defending on 70 minutes. Ian Bermingham failed to clear, allowing Ramunas Radavicius to get an effort on target. Despite a good save from Brendan Clarke, the ball fell to Kamil Bilinski who found the empty net.
Pat's didn't let the goal deflate them, and continued to get men forward with some decent passing. However, their equaliser was an individual effort with Ger O'Brien going on a solo run before unleashing a shot past Vitkauskas.
The Saints will now take a draw and two away goals back to Richmond Park for the second leg on Thursday, July 11.