Cork City 4
Levadia Tallinn 2
(Cork City win 6-2 on aggregate)
Paul Dollery reports from Turner’s Cross
CORK CITY WILL face AEK Larnaca of Cyprus in the second qualifying round of the Europa League after a hat-trick from Sean Maguire fired the Leesiders to victory in the second leg of their first-round tie against Levadia Tallinn.
In front of an attendance of 6,314 at a sold-out Turner’s Cross, City found themselves 2-1 down on the night at the interval. However, three second-half goals from Maguire gave John Caulfield’s side a 6-2 aggregate victory over the Estonians, as the Preston-bound striker took his competitive tally for the season to 22 in all competitions.
With a two-goal deficit to overturn from the first leg, there was a sense of urgency about Levadia from the outset. Joao Morelli asked the first question of Mark McNulty, but his long-range effort was struck straight at the City goalkeeper in the eighth minute.
But the home side were the width of a post away from extending their advantage moments later. Jimmy Keohane’s deep cross from the right found Garry Buckley, whose looping header back across goal hit the crossbar.
There was a nervy moment for Levadia when goalkeeper Sergei Lepmets failed to deal with Kevin O’Connor’s cross from the left, but Karl Sheppard was unable to pounce.
On 15 minutes, Levadia went ahead on the night. The lively Evgenii Kobzar took on Keohane down the left, before cutting inside and drilling a superb right-footed shot beyond McNulty from approximately 20 yards out.
Perhaps for the first time this season at Turner’s Cross, City began to look slightly unsure of themselves in the immediate aftermath of the opening goal. However, they eventually found their rhythm and restored their two-goal advantage.
Ryan Delaney’s header went wide from an O’Connor cross, but after O’Connor was fouled on the left in the 28th minute, Sheppard met Bolger’s free-kick at the near post and headed the ball beyond Lepmets.
Four minutes later, however, Levadia struck again. Kobzar was again the instigator, this time breaking down the right before crossing for Nikita Andreev, whose brilliant header left McNulty with no chance. But City were furious as Kobzar appeared to handle the ball in the build-up.
Sheppard twice sought to respond for the home side. His attempted lob was just off target, before a header from O’Connor’s cross also went wide shortly before the interval. Nevertheless, City only had to wait 30 seconds after the restart to score their second of the night.
Buckley broke towards the Shed End and sprayed the ball wide to Sheppard. His low cross from the right fell to Maguire, who finished with a delightful flick from close range. Maguire’s first Europa League goal of this campaign, added to the three he scored last season, saw him equal Dan Murray’s club record of four goals in Europe. But there was more to come.
With four minutes remaining, Maguire beat Lepmets after being teed up in the box by substitute Achille Campion. The SSE Airtricity League’s leading goalscorer completed his hat-trick in the final minute of normal time, heading home emphatically from Shane Griffin’s corner.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Jimmy Keohane, Conor McCormack, Ryan Delaney, Kevin O’Connor; Greg Bolger (Achille Campion, 85); Karl Sheppard (Steven Beattie, 69), Gearoid Morrissey, Garry Buckley, Stephen Dooley (Shane Griffin, 78); Sean Maguire.
Levadia Tallinn: Sergei Lempets; Igor Dudarev, Artom Atrjunin, Maksim Podholjuzin, Aime Gando; Mark Roosnupp, Josip Krznaric, Evgenii Kobzar (Pavel Marin, 60); Joao Morelli, Rimo Hunt; Nikita Andreev (Ingimar Teever, 87).
Referee: Gunnar Jarl Jonsson (Iceland).