The hosts hadn’t accrued either a point or a goal in their previous five Uefa qualifiers until they inflicted a potentially fatal blow on Ireland’s prospects of qualifying for the 2017 finals.
Despite Conor Wilkinson cancelling out the hosts’ opener, Ireland conceded again before the break and a third followed on 73 minutes.
“We’d had good displays in the campaign until now but that was a different team out there tonight,” said King.
“Lithuania probably deserved their win and maybe our players were over-confident after beating them 3-0 at home last month.”
On 23 minutes, Donatas Kazlaukas fed Vykintas Slivka on the left and his first-time cross to the far post was brilliantly headed home by Lukas Spalvis.
Wilkinson, however, led the Irish response with the Barnsley forward nodding an effort against the crossbar and bringing the best out of Edvinas Gertmonas with a ferocious volley.
There was nothing the Stade Rennais custodian, a senior international, could do about Wilkinson’s next attempt two minutes short of the break.
Controlling a left-wing cross from substitute Reece Grego-Cox, he skipped past home captain Justinas Janusevskis on the edge of the box and buried a low strike into the bottom right corner.
Lithuania took less than a minute to regain the lead. When Deimantas Petravicius was allowed break down the right, his cut-back was smashed high into the net by Simonas Stankevicious.
Seeking a second leveller against a side content to sit back was a mission Ireland found difficult.
Although Callum O’Dowda was denied by Gertmonas three minutes after the restart with a header that was tipped around the post and Sean Kavanagh fluffed his shot from close range, Lithuania were rarely troubled.
Instead, Ireland’s task was put beyond them with 17 minutes left when they gifted their hosts a third.
Darragh Lenihan’s uncharacteristic error left his defence exposed and Donatas Kazlaukas seized on the mistake by stroking the ball past Rogers.
To cap an awful night, Kavanagh was sent-off in the last minute for a late tackle on Rolandas Baravyykas.
- The Republic of Ireland U19 team lost 0-1 to Slovenia in the opening game of their Uefa European U19 Championship campaign yesterday at Eamon Deacy Park, Galway. Ireland created the bulk of the chances but Mika Mario Rokavec scored from Slovenia’s only shot on target.
E Gertmonas; R Baravyykas, J Janusevskis, J Aleksandravicius, L Cerkaukas; K Silkaitis, V Slivka; D Petravicius, S Stankevicious, D Kazlaukas; L Spavlis.
D Romanovskij for Kazlaukas (89 mins)
D Rogers (Falkirk); S Long (Reading), D Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), S Griffin (Reading), J Connors (Dagenham); A Browne (Preston NE), J Byrne (SC Cambuur), J Cullen (West Ham Utd); C O’Dowda (Oxford Utd), C Wilkinson (Barnsley), S Kavanagh (Fulham).
R Grego-Cox (QPR) for Connors (18 mins), D Connolly (Ipswich Town) for Byrne (65 mins), S Maguire (Dundalk) for Wilkinson (83 mins).
P Ardeleanu (CZE).