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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 6 May 2021

Dundalk's Champions League hopes in the balance after closely fought first leg

The second leg of the tie takes place in Oriel Park next week.

Dundalk's Richie Towell tackled by Evgeni Yablonski of BATE.
Dundalk's Richie Towell tackled by Evgeni Yablonski of BATE.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Updated at 21.55


Dundalk 1

DUNDALK’S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE hopes are in the balance, after they were beaten 2-1 away against Belarusian side BATE in the first leg of tonight’s second-round qualifier.

The Irish team endured a difficult start, as they fell behind when Aleksandr Karnitski finished well from just outside the box, after Chris Shields conceded possession in a dangerous area.

Dundalk scored a deserved equaliser with just over half an hour played, however, when David McMillan finished coolly after the ball deflected fortuitously into his path.

Evgeni Yablonski then scored the winner on 38 minutes, as his pot shot took a wicked deflection off Shields to give BATE a slight advantage going into next week’s second leg at Oriel Park.

Dundalk wasted some excellent chances before their eventual breakthrough — McMillan saw a header well saved by Sergei Chernik after a pinpoint Richie Towell delivery, before the striker blasted over the rebound.

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Dane Massey’s header also brought out the best in Chernik, who acrobatically palmed his opponent’s effort away for a corner.

The second half was less open, with the hosts enjoying more of the play but struggling to create clear-cut chances.

BATE’s best chance of the second period arrived on 57 minutes, when Nemanja Milunovic’s downward header from close range was well saved by Gary Rogers.

The Irish side rarely looked like conceding after the break though, and will still be optimistic about their chances of progression ahead of the return fixture next week.

Meanwhile, Dedryck Boyata headed a debut goal as Celtic secured a comfortable 2-0 win over Stjarnan in the first leg of their Champions League second qualifying round tie at Parkhead.

Another summer recruit, Nadir Ciftci, passed up a succession of chances to break the deadlock as Ronny Deila’s side dominated their Icelandic opponents, but it was left to former Manchester City defender Boyata to open the scoring in the 44th minute.

Jeppe Hansen and Horour Arnason missed opportunities to level after the break as Stjarnan belatedly made their presence felt as an attacking force, but the impressive Stefan Johansen netted in style to give Celtic breathing space.

Dundalk: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey, Stephen O’Donnell (c), Chris Shields, John Mountney, Richie Towell, Daryl Horgan, David McMillan. Subs: Ronan Finn, Kurtis Byrne, Shane Grimes, Paddy Barrett, Jake Kelly, Darren Meenan Gabriel Sava.

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Paul Fennessy

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