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Late, late Patching goal seals comeback Dundalk victory against Levadia Tallinn

Vinny Perth’s side will face Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem in the next round.

Matchwinner Will Patching in action against Levadia Tallinn.
Matchwinner Will Patching in action against Levadia Tallinn.
Image: Eero Vabamägi/INPHO

Levadia Tallinn 1 

Dundalk 2 

Dundalk win 4-3 on aggregate

DUNDALK ARE OFF on yet another European journey, with Will Patching’s stoppage time goal sealing a come-from-behind victory against Levadia Tallinn in the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League. 

The Lilywhites came into the tonight’s second leg level 2-2 on aggregate – albeit in a competition not using the away goals rule – but fell behind after 17 minutes to a goal from Ernest Agyiri, having been caught on the counter-attack.

Dundalk kept creating opportunities, however, and Sam Stanton hit the crossbar before David McMillan equalised a minute before the break with his fourteenth goal in Europe for the club. 

McMillan turned home a neat pass from Greg Sloggett, but the goal owed much to the fine work down the left flank by Darragh Leahy. 

Late in the second half, with the game seemingly headed to extra-time, Perth replaced Stanton with Wilfried Zahibo in the 88th minute. The midfielder was the only player to lose his place from the first leg and has been recently maligned by a section of the Dundalk supporters, but he made an instant impact tonight, winning the ball back to allow Patrick McEleney play an inch-perfect through-ball for Will Patching, who rifled the ball into the net in stoppage time. 

The goal secures another European windfall for the club – earnings from the Europa Conference run thus far total more than €800,000 – and sets up a third qualifying round tie against Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem.

“There was a kick of a ball in it”, said Vinny Perth post-game. “It was a really good, entertaining game of football against two sides who were attack-minded and thankfully for us we came out on the right side of it.

“They have very dangerous players in the two wingers, so once we dealt with the counter attacks, it was about us keeping the ball for longer. We did that in the first leg and did it in the first half today. Second half we weren’t so good, and we have areas of improvement. As I said I thought it was an excellent tie between, if I am allowed say this, two well-coached teams.” 

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Perhaps said he wasn’t looking ahead to the next round prior to securing tonight’s result. 

“Absolutely nothing, other than where they finished in the league”, he replied when asked what he knew of Vitesse. “The reason for that is I had too much respect for Levadia, it was such a difficult tie coming here. I felt it was a 50/50 tie so it would have been too presumptuous of me to look ahead to next Thursday. I have plenty of time to prepare for next Thursday but whoever won this tie had a very difficult tie in the next round and it will be that.”

Victory in that tie would leave Dundalk just one more round from the group stages. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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