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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 10 December, 2018

Pair of Levi goals leave City with mountain to climb against Rosenborg

John Caulfield’s side were beaten in their first leg against the Norwegian champions tonight in Cork.

Shane Griffin and Jonathan Levi Cork City's Shane Griffin takes on Jonathan Levi of Rosenborg. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Cork City 0
Rosenborg 2

Paul Dollery reports from Turner’s Cross

CORK CITY WILL need to produce something special in Trondheim next Thursday if they’re to advance to a meeting with RB Salzburg or KF Shkëndija in the play-off round of the Europa League.

Two Jonathan Levi goals in this evening’s first leg put Rosenborg firmly in the ascendancy in their third qualifying round tie against the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division champions.

The home fans will feel that their side deserved more for what was generally a commendable display, but the attacking quality at the disposal of the visitors ultimately made the difference in front of 5,488 spectators at Turner’s Cross.

Rosenborg were under pressure at the back at various stages during the opening 45 minutes, yet they still managed to take a two-goal lead into the break. Levi put the Norwegian champions ahead midway through the half and grabbed his second just before the interval.

Jonathan Levi celebrates scoring their second goal with his teammates Rosenborg players celebrate after their second goal. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The effort and endeavour of John Caulfield’s side couldn’t be faulted, and it certainly wasn’t a comfortable night for Rosenborg’s rearguard. However, City are once again left counting the cost of a failure to capitalise on their opportunities. It’s now five European games in succession without a goal for the Leesiders.

While Rosenborg had the first attempt on goal — Levi’s strike from distance comfortably saved by Mark McNulty — City made an encouraging start, displaying the type of offensive urgency which was lacking during their Champions League elimination at the hands of Legia Warsaw.

Barry McNamee threatened twice for the home side in the early stages. After good work on the left by Karl Sheppard and Shane Griffin, McNamee saw his close-range effort diverted away from the target by a vital intervention from Birger Meling.

Moments later, McNamee shot from just outside the box and forced Rosenborg goalkeeper André Hansen to parry, before Graham Cummins had a strike that drifted wide after City’s leading goalscorer linked up with Sheppard.

Against the run of play, however, Rosenborg snatched the lead in the 22nd minute. Meling’s cross from the left was headed clear by Sean McLoughlin but the ball fell to Levi, who got by Griffin too easily and finished through the legs of McNulty.

Garry Buckely and Anders Trondsen Cork City's Garry Buckley under pressure from Anders Trondsen of Rosenborg. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Conceding was a harsh blow for City given the manner of their start, but they were fortunate not to fall further behind in the minutes that followed the game’s opening goal.

Levi struck straight at McNulty after being played in behind by Marius Lundemo, McLoughlin made a crucial block on an Alexander Søderlund shot, and Levi then had an effort from a free-kick which wasn’t far off the target.

Although the impact of Rosenborg’s first goal was initially evident in the body language of the City players, they weathered a brief storm and gradually regrouped. Sheppard came closest to finding an equaliser when his well-struck attempt from 20 yards had Hansen scrambling but the ball went narrowly wide.

Levi went close again when his volley from Nicklas Bendtner’s cross was blocked by Jimmy Keohane, but a second goal for the Swedish U21 international did arrive on the stroke of half-time when he finished off a brilliantly-worked move which also involved the impressive Lundemo and captain Mike Jensen.

The half-time introduction of Kieran Sadlier offered City a fresh injection of pace and creativity. With the hosts desperately searching for a way back into the contest, Sadlier brought a superb save from Hansen with a free-kick that was heading for the far corner.

Kieran Sadlier and Veger Hedenstad Kieran Sadlier of Cork City is challenged by Rosenborg's Vegar Hegenstad. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

That was as close as City came, while their pursuit of a goal also led to a couple of nervy moments at the back. Jensen volleyed wide from 10 yards after being teed up by Levi, before Bendtner failed to hit the target when Garry Buckley cheaply coughed up possession.

City had one last chance with two minutes of normal time remaining but no attacking player was able to get a touch on Sadlier’s inviting dead-ball delivery from the left.

CORK CITY: Mark McNulty; Steven Beattie, Damien Delaney, Sean McLoughlin, Shane Griffin; Conor McCormack (Gearoid Morrissey, 61), Jimmy Keohane; Barry McNamee (Kieran Sadlier, HT), Garry Buckley, Karl Sheppard (Ronan Coughlan, 72); Graham Cummins.

ROSENBORG: André Hansen; Vegar Hedenstad, Even Hovland, Tore Reginiussen, Birger Meling; Marius Lundemo, Anders Trondsen (Olaus Skarsem, 86); Jonathan Levi, Mike Jensen, Nicklas Bendtner; Alexander Søderlund (Erik Botheim, 78).

Referee: Petr Ardeleanu (Czech Republic).

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Paul Dollery

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