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Birthday boy Kilduff pounces again as Dundalk take their biggest European scalp yet

Stephen Kenny’s men recorded an incredible 1-0 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv tonight.

Kilduff celebrates his goal.
Kilduff celebrates his goal.
Image: Niall Carson

Dundalk 1
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0

ON HIS 28TH birthday, Ciaran Kilduff again proved Dundalk’s hero as they claimed another historic European win at Tallaght Stadium — the most impressive one yet.

Just like he did in Alkmaar two weeks ago, the striker was sprung from the bench to grab a huge Europa League goal in the dying minutes.

This time, however, it was to clinch all three points as opposed to just one as the Lilywhites saw off Maccabi Tel Aviv with a 1-0 victory to climb to second in Group D.

With captain Stephen O’Donnell suspended after his red card in the 1-1 draw with AZ Alkmaar, Chris Shields came into the Lilywhites midfield. The one other change saw Robbie Benson replace John Mountney.

Former Rangers and Ajax striker Shota Arveladze, now managing the 21-time Israeli champions, was forced into one switch of his own as Dor Peretz replaced the suspended Elazar Dasi at right full-back in a team that boasted ten full internationals.

Shota Arveladze Maccabi Tel Aviv manager Shota Arveladze (right). Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Dundalk started superbly and cut the Maccabi defence wide open with less than two minutes on the clock. David McMillan helped on a ball out of defence to put through Patrick McEleney, who started out wide right with Benson in behind the lone striker.

With just the goalkeeper to beat, the ex-Derry City man shot straight at Serbian international Predrag Rajkovic, who played against Ireland in a World Cup qualifier earlier this month.

Stephen Kenny said this week that his team deserve their place in this competition and they certainly didn’t look out of place in the opening exchanges. Ronan Finn forced Rajkovic into two saves — keeping the ball out with his feet before punching out of play — and Benson had a penalty claim on 20 minutes.

The midfielder was caught by Omri Ben Harush inside Maccabi’s area but not enough to warrant a penalty, according to Latvian referee Andris Treimanis.

With Ireland manager Martin O’Neill watching on from the stands, Horgan stung the hands of Rajkovic and McEleney shot wide after stepping inside onto his left foot.

Contrastingly, the visitors were restricted to a couple of wayward efforts in a fine 45 minutes of football for the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division champions.

Robbie Benson appeals for a penalty Robbie Benson appeals for a penalty. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Maccabi began to enjoy spells of possession after the interval and came more into the game, but Dundalk continued to threaten with Shields shooting too high.

Meanwhile, Ben Harush and Vidar Orn Kjartansson couldn’t keep their efforts down either down the other end.

Kenny brought on Kilduff just after the hour mark and he made an instant impact — heading inches over from a Finn cross.

He made no mistake on 72 minutes, however, latching onto an inch-perfect cross from Horgan to sidefoot home the volley.

A magical night — They’re becoming a regular occurrence for this remarkable team.

DUNDALK: Rogers; Gannon, Boyle (c), Gartland, Massey; Benson (Shiels 85), Shields, Finn, Horgan, McEleney (Mountney 75); McMillan (Kilduff 64).

MACCABI TEL AVIV: Rajkovic; Peretz, Ben Haim, Tibi, Ben Harush; Igiebor (Miha 59), Alberman (c) (Itzhaki 78), Medunjanin, Scarione, Kjartansson, Ben Chaim (Benayoun 82).

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Ben Blake

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