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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 17 April 2021

Dundalk old boy comes back to haunt them in Champions League qualifier first leg

The SSE Airtricity League’s best side drew 1-1 with Icelandic opponents Fimleikafélag Hafnarfjarðar at Oriel Park tonight.

David McMillan scored the opener.
David McMillan scored the opener.

Dundalk 1

Fimleikafélag Hafnarfjarðar 1

DUNDALK SCORED FIRST in their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round first leg against FH at Oriel Park – but a goal from a former Dundalk striker handed the Icelandic side a precious away goal.

Amongst a whole host of unrecognisable and unpronounceable names, there was certain irony in the Louth men being denied a famous European win by a former Lilywhite.

Steven Lennon, who played for the club in the UEFA Europa League in 2010, did the damage just ten minutes after in-form David McMillan put them in front. A draw was the least Dundalk deserved and they might kick themselves they failed to win.

The home side were much the better side for the opening 25 minutes before FH came into the game. They had the best chance of the first half through Alti Gudnason before McMillan spurned a glorious opportunity just before the break.

Dundalk teamshot Dundalk's starting XI. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Dundalk showed more adventure in their play and suggested heavily that they had more quality at their disposal than the Icelanders but when Gudnason managed to get the ball out from under his feet, he forced Gary Rogers into a splendid diving save to deny him.

Stephen Kenny’s men had gone off the boil a little in truth but recovered to finish the opening 45 minutes strongly. McMillan – who had earlier screwed a shot wide after an excellent move – should have scored.

Daryl Horgan’s right foot free kick had former Manchester City stopper Gunnar Nielsen at full stretch to deny him but when the rebound fell to McMillan, the man with six goals in his last two league matches, fired over.

In the second half, Hafnarfjordur started a little better but again, it was Dundalk who looked more likely to create something at the opposite end. Bergsveinn Olafsson became the second FH centre back to be booked when he scythed down Patrick McEleney. Daryl Horgan curled the free kick just over.

The opener came on 65 minutes. Sean Gannon did well to emerge from a tussle with the ball midway inside the Dundalk half. He broke forward and released McEleney down the right. He crossed infield for McMillan. The striker had a long time to watch the ball coming but he cooly dispatched a first time volley into the net.

A Dundalk fan cheers on his team Fans cheer the team on at Oriel Park. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The roar from the Oriel faithful was part joy, part relief. Last year’s league and cup winners had been the better team all told and departing for Reykjavik next week with no advantage to show for their efforts would have cast serious doubt on their continental hopes for another year.

As it turned out, it was Dundalk’s failure to keep a clean sheet that has handed FH edge. On 76 minutes, Bodhvar Bodhvarssson’s cross was met by sub Paddy Barratt, but his clearance fell only to Steven Lennon. He smashed a shot past Rogers to equalise.

With four goals in ten league outings this term and with a six month spell at Oriel Park under his belt back in 2010, much of the pre match focus was on Lennon. The Scot started at centre forward for Heimir Gudjonssen’s team but hardly had a kick in the first half and for much of the second.

His leveller was his first ever goal at Oriel. The result means Dundalk have drawn back to back home matches in Europe for the first time since 1979. Back then, the stalemates came against Porto and Celtic. Chances of meeting such exalted company are hanging by a thread.

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland (Paddy Barratt, 43), Andy Boyle, Dane Massey, Stephen O’Donnell, Ronan Finn, John Mountney (Robbie Benson, 81), Patrick McEleney, Daryl Horgan, David McMillan (Ciaran Kilduff, 78).

FH: Gunnar Nielsen, Jonathan Hendrickx, Kasim Doumbia, Bergsveinn Olafsson, Bodvar Bodhvarsson, Bjarni Thor Vidarsson, Atli Gudnason (Sam Hewson, 79), Emil Palsson, David Thor Vidarsson (Petur Vidarsson, 87), Thorarinn Ingi
Valdimarsson, Steven Lennon.

Referee: Nikola Popov (Bulgaria)
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Barry Landy

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