Europa League

Cork City's European adventure comes to an end at a sold-out Turner's Cross

KRC Genk progress at the expense of John Caulfield’s side.

inpho_01090086 Cork City's Kevin O'Connor under pressure from Genk's Wilfried Ndidi. INPHO / Cathal Noonan INPHO / Cathal Noonan / Cathal Noonan

Cork City 1 (1)
KRC Genk 2 (3)

– Paul Dollery reports from Turner’s Cross

CORK CITY WERE unable to pull off another big European result for the SSE Airtricity League tonight when they were dumped out of the Europa League by KRC Genk.

Trailing 1-0 from last week’s first leg in Belgium, City were left with a mountain to climb at the break this evening at Turner’s Cross after Thomas Buffel and Sebastien Dewaest both scored in the first half to give the visitors a 3-0 aggregate advantage in the second leg of their third round qualifier.

Alan Bennett pulled one back for City after the interval but Genk progressed to the play-off stages, denying City a place in tomorrow’s Uefa draws, where their League of Ireland rivals Dundalk will await their next opponents in the Champions League following Tuesday’s stunning defeat of BATE Borisov.

Beginning the game with the same side that played at the Luminus Arena seven days ago, John Caulfield’s men made a lively start in front of a sell-out crowd of 6,745 on Leeside, with the hosts pressing the visitors high up the pitch amid a red-hot atmosphere.

Sebastien Dewaest celebrates scoring their second goal Sebastien Dewaest celebrates after scoring Genk's second goal. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Greg Bolger, Kevin O’Connor and Stephen Dooley all saw deliveries into the box come to nothing early on, but it was Genk’s Leon Bailey — the only goalscorer in the first leg — who had the first real chance of the game but his effort from an Alejandro Pozuelo cross in the eighth minute was blocked by a sea of green bodies.

However, Genk’s opener arrived just four minutes later and it was Bailey who provided the assist. His low cross from the left found its way to captain Thomas Buffel, the former Rangers and Feyenoord midfielder, who fired home with a sweet first-time finish from just inside the box.

That left City needing three goals to stay in the tie and Bailey had a glorious chance to increase Genk’s advantage in the 18th minute but he shot wide of the far post after being played in from the left-hand side.

City enjoyed plenty of possession in the opposition’s final third as they sought to claw their way back into the contest. O’Connor, in particular, delivered several inviting crosses, with the best of them headed harmlessly at goalkeeper Marco Bizot by Steven Beattie, and then over the crossbar via a Kenny Browne volley.

Genk had further chances to score through Ally Samatta, who had an effort blocked by Browne, and Neeskens Kebano, who shot across the face of goal, but their second goal of the night did arrive five minutes before the break when Dewaest headed home from Pozuelo’s corner from the left.

Alan Bennett scores a goal Alan Bennett scores for Cork City. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

City introduced Mark O’Sullivan and Danny Morrissey at half-time — with Karl Sheppard joining them shortly afterwards — in an attempt to somehow find their way back into the game, and the changes nearly had an immediate impact. However, O’Sullivan’s 51st-minute shot and header four minutes later both went off target.

The Leesiders did find the net in the 63rd minute and it was no surprise that it was engineered by another good delivery by O’Connor, whose free from the right found the head of Alan Bennett, who beat Bizot in the Genk goal in his 26th European appearance for City.

Genk substitute Leandro Trossard forced two good saves from Mark McNulty within seven minutes of being introduced, before O’Sullivan came close to levelling the tie on the night when his 79th-minute header from yet another O’Connor cross produced an excellent fingertip save from Bizot.

O’Sullivan saw another header narrowly miss the target from a long ball into the box by Beattie, who handed Genk a chance to score a third in added time when he brought Neeskens Kebano down in the box, but Kebano fired his penalty off the crossbar with the last kick of the game.

Genk players celebrate with their supporters The Genk players celebrate with their supporters at full-time. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Cork City: Mark McNulty; Michael McSweeney (Mark O’Sullivan, HT), Alan Bennett, Kenny Browne, Kevin O’Connor; Greg Bolger (c); Stephen Dooley, Garry Buckley, Gearoid Morrissey (Danny Morrissey, HT), Steven Beattie; Sean Maguire (Karl Sheppard, 56).

KRC Genk: Marco Bizot; Sandy Walsh, Sebastien Dewaest, Dries Wouters, Jere Uronen; Thomas Buffel (Holly Tshimanga, 84), Wilfred Ndidi, Alejandro Pozuelo, Leon Bailey (Leandro Trossard, 65); Ally Samatta (Bryan Heynen, 77), Neeskens Kebano.

Referee: Kristo Tohver (Estonia).

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