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Disastrous start leaves Cork City with a mountain to climb in Luxembourg

The Leesiders suffered a 2-0 defeat to Progres Niederkorn in the first leg of their Europa League tie.

Mayron De Almeida celebrates scoring a penalty with team mates Cork City's Colm Horgan looks despondent as Progres Niederkorn celebrate their second goal. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Cork City 0
Progres Niederkorn 2

COLM HORGAN ENDURED a disastrous European debut as Cork City’s hopes of setting up a Europa League tie against Scottish giants Rangers were left hanging by a thread.

Without a win in their previous seven outings, City carried their domestic struggles into Europe by suffering a costly first-leg defeat to Progres Niederkorn in front of 3,137 spectators in Cork this evening.

The Leesiders must now overcome a two-goal deficit in next Thursday’s second leg in Luxembourg, where a clash with Steven Gerrard’s side in the second qualifying round will be at stake.

Requiring a minimum of two goals to get back into the tie will be a tall order for a team who have failed to find the net in their last three games. Furthermore, City now haven’t scored in their last seven outings in European competition.

This evening’s scoreline might suggest that City were outclassed on home soil, but the harsh truth for head coach John Cotter and his players is that they gifted this victory to a team who never looked anything more than ordinary.

Conor McCormack is tackled by Belmin Muratovic Conor McCormack of Cork City is tackled by Progres Niederkorn's Belmin Muratovic. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Backed by vociferous home support, City made a promising start but failed to pose any significant questions of the visiting defence. Nevertheless, they found themselves behind with only 10 minutes on the clock.

As Progres sought to attack from the left, the ball fell at Colm Horgan’s feet in a precarious position in the City box. The wing-back hesitated before attempting to clear the danger, which allowed Belmin Muratovic to pounce. The Luxembourg U21 international robbed Horgan of possession and fired his side into the lead from close range.

Horgan was again the culprit when Progres doubled their advantage in the 21st minute. His clumsy challenge on Mayron De Almeida convinced Latvian referee Aleksandrs Anufrijevs to point to the penalty spot. De Almeida converted emphatically to leave his team two goals to the good with less than a quarter of the game played.

When Conor McCarthy was brought down by Muratovic at the other end just four minutes later, City were handed the ideal opportunity to deliver a positive response. Karl Sheppard sent his penalty kick down the middle as Sebastian Flauss dived to his right, but the ball ricocheted over the crossbar off the Progress goalkeeper’s leg.

That chance came moments after a disconsolate Colm Horgan was withdrawn by John Cotter, who sprung veteran striker Mark O’Sullivan from the bench in an attempt to get his side back into the contest.

With Gearoid Morrissey to the fore, City threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Progres until the interval, yet clear-cut goalscoring chances remained scarce. In fact, they were fortunate not to fall further behind just after the half-hour mark when Metin Karayer failed to connect after the ball fell kindly for him in front of Mark McNulty’s goal. 

Kempes Waldemar Tekiela with Dan Casey Kempes Tekiela of Progres Niederkorn tangles with Cork City's Dan Casey. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Despite often dictating the play after the restart, City’s lack of guile precluded them from laying a glove on their opponents, who dealt relatively comfortably with the home side’s attacking threat. 

Progres may indeed be ruing some missed chances to bring a bigger lead back to Luxembourg. City’s pursuit of a goal occasionally left them exposed at the back, but they had Ronan Hurley and Dan Casey to thank for getting in the way of efforts from Sebastien Thill and Ben Vogel in swift succession.

City’s last throw of the dice was a long-range effort from Morrissey which sailed harmlessly over the crossbar. During a rudderless second half, that was as close as the hosts came to a goal.

CORK CITY: Mark McNulty; Conor McCarthy, Dan Casey, Sean McLoughlin; Colm Horgan (Mark O’Sullivan, 24), Gearoid Morrissey, Conor McCormack, Ronan Hurley; Garry Buckley (Gary Boylan, 61), Joel Coustrain (Darragh Crowley, 80); Karl Sheppard.

PROGRES NIEDERKORN: Sebastian Flauss; Tom Laterza, Alkin Skenderovic, Tim Hall, Metin Karayer; Ben Vogel, Christian Silaj; Belmin Muratovic (Jack Mmaee, 72), Sebastien Thill (Adrian Ferino, 88), Mayron De Almeida; Kempes Tekiela (Yann Marques, 90).

Referee: Aleksandrs Anufrijevs (Latvia).

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About the author:

Paul Dollery  / Reports from Turner's Cross

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