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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 22 September, 2019
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Good evening – we’re less than an hour away from tonight’s Champions League second qualifying round first leg between Dundalk and Qarabag at Oriel Park.

The game is undoubtedly the Lilywhites’ biggest test to date, following their shoot-out victory over Riga FC last week in Latvia.

The Azerbaijani supremos visit The Town as domestic champions and have been so for the last six years running.

On top of that, the visitors have developed a more recent European pedigree, featuring in the group stages of European club competition for the last five years.

Most will recognise them from their Europa League group stage ties against Arsenal last year, while they also appeared in the Champions League group stages in 2017. They finished that year with two points – having drawn home and away with Atletico Madrid.

Here’s how Dundalk will line out this evening:

Michael Duffy returns to the starting line up following the birth of his son Eli, which kept him out of last week’s tie away to Latvia.

Hoban keeps his spot up top, while penalty heroes Hoare and McGrath also get the nod.

Boyle is back, as is Benson for tonight’s Champions League clash.

Will this man be the difference this evening?

Pat Hoban leads the line this evening alongside Patrick McEleney and Michael Duffy.

Pat Hoban Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“It’s been a mad week,” winger and new father Michael Duffy told Dundalk’s official social media channels ahead of tonight’s game. “The focus is back on the football now.

The boys were brilliant [last week], they got the job done over there. Fully deserved. We’ve watched a lot of Qarabağ and they’re obviously a brilliant footballing side. They put it up to Arsenal so it shows they’re going to be a top team.

“But we’ve worked on them and know we’ve been on a good run ourselves so we just have to worry about what we can do. There’s a buzz around The Town.”

You can read more of our preview of tonight’s game right here.

So, with about 30 minutes to go until kick-off – how do you see this one going?


Poll Results:

Dundalk (100)
Draw (70)
Qarabag (64)



Prediction Time.

Let us know how you think tonight’s game will play out at Oriel Park – are Dundalk set to spring an upset or will Qarabag use all of their experience to get a result in Louth this evening?

Dundalk players celebrate after the game Dundalk players celebrate after last week's game. Source: LETA/INPHO

A penny for this man’s thoughts right now…

Vinny Perth Dundalk head coach, Vinny Perth. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

3- Dundalk free kick swung in by Duffy. It’s a poor delivery, fails to beat the first man.

 

Hoban wins a corner for his side as the Lilywhites come again. Better delivery this time from Duffy, Andy Boyle heads over. Good start from Dundalk.

Gary Rogers plays in his 42nd European game this evening, by the way.

6 – A cheap corner given away from Dundalk and the ball is swung in. Emrell rises highest and heads downward, past Rogers and into the net. Very poor start for the Premier Division champions.

12 – Dundalk struggle to get back possession from the opposition. Some promising opening chances quickly turned to a nightmare start after the concession of the first goal.

Qarabag look very comfortable on the ball, knocking it around the pitch. Garayev at the base of the midfield helping to play the ball around.

Richard Almeida as well looking threatening to the visitors.

Noel Mooney and Mick McCarthy Noel Mooney and Ireland senior manager Mick McCarthy are in attendance at Oriel Park this evening. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

13 – Hoban and McEleney busy themselves up top and Vagner spills a cross, which almost falls to Dundalk duo up top but it’s collected.

Half chance at best but the first nervy moment of the night for Qarabag.

21- Qarabag enjoying a prolonged spell of possession.

Cross in from Romero but Boyle clears. Zoubir’s shot is blocked.

Dundalk sort of chasing shadows at the moment.

A fast start from the Azerbaijan champions this evening…

Qarabag players celebrate scoring their sides first goal Qarabag players celebrate scoring their sides first goal. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

22 – Benson plays a neat one-two with Hoban, but is clobbered by Mammadov – who wins the header to be fair.

Down the other end, Boyle clears an attempted cross.

Benson down now to receive some attention after that collision.

27 – Shot from Slavchev is just snatched at on the edge of the box. Only a half chance.

Benson looks as though he’ll make way, he’s gone down again after that collision.

Sean Murray comes in for Benson.

30 – Almeida shoots wide for Qarabag.

Duffy and Massey try to link up the other end but they lose possession and the visitors break. Good chance for Qarabag, they’re putting Perth’s side under a lot pressure in this first half.

Struggling to string together passes because the Qarabag midfield are swarming on every pass, every piece of link up player. The home side can barely get a moment in the opposition half.

Zoubir sends it wide from the edge of the box.

34 – Duffy race down the left but can’t pick out Hoban with his cross.

Gannon’s cross is cleared too on the opposite flank. Dundalk slowly but surely coming to terms with the speed of the game. Qarabag take possession and begin to slow the game down. Stroking it around.

36 – Hoban is fouled by Mammadov. They win a free from distance.

Good chance to get a cross in. Duffy takes…

Vagner comes and claims. Wasted chance there from Dundalk. They win it back through Hoare and come again on the attack… comes to nothing.

Pat Hoban with Ailton Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

40 – Rogers quick off his line to deny Slavchev as he’s slipped through the Dundalk defence.

Big chance there from Qarabag, still only the one goal in it.

Excellent opportunity missed there by the visitors.

43 – Hoban clears off the line.

Dundalk at sixes and sevens from a corner once again, Rogers can’t claim and the ball headed back across the face of goal, but Hoban is there to mop up.

Shortly after, Zoubir forces a good save from Rogers.

45 – Three minutes additional time at the end of this opening half.

Tough opening 45 minutes for Vinny Perth’s side.

The visitors suffocating any Dundalk play, their midfield is under immense pressure.

Slavchev should have put the home side 2-0 up just before the break but not for Rogers’ excellent goalkeeping.

Big 45 minutes coming up for the Lilywhites.

About to get back underway for the second half at Oriel Park.

49 – Duffy makes a nuisance of himself in the opening stages of the second half and racing up the wing. Tips it past the fullback but Wagner collects.

Dundalk have a shout for a penalty after McEleney goes down in the box. Corner.

Hoare sends his shot wide.

52 – Qarabag sub: Medvedev comes off for Huseynov.

Looks like a muscle injury. Dundalk with their tails up in this opening period of the second half.

McEleney shoots over from Hoban’s cross – excellent chance for Dundalk. Really well worked.

55 – Big chance for Dundalk. McGrath’s cross goes deep and into the box and the pullback from Duffy goes to no one. 

Murray pounces on the loose ball in the box but he’s blocked.

Looked all the world that Dundalk were going to pull level.

58 – Dundalk yet to register a shot on target so far this evening.

Zoubir jinks away from a couple of challenges but Dundalk smother the danger on the edge of their own box.

65 – Dundalk’s defence sitting a little deeper in the last few minutes.

Chris Shields looks in a bit of discomfort, his right leg appears to be bothering him.

Zoubir whips in a dangerous cross but no one can get on the end of it.

69 – Dundalk Sub: John Mountney on for McEleney.

70 – SAVE! Rogers denies Romero from distance. The follow up from Almeida is skied over the bar.

Should have been the game wrapped up there really. Great chance.

Into the final 20 minutes, can Dundalk salvage something from this game?

Flag

77 – JUST WIDE!

McGrath’s effort is blocked and goes out for a corner. Atmosphere had gone a bit flat up to that point, but McGrath sets Dundalk’s pulses racing with that effort.

Results in a corner…

GOAL!! – Dundalk 1-1 Qarabag (Pat Hoban) 

DUNDALK ARE LEVEL!

And it comes out of pretty much nothing! McGrath’s effort was deflected wide and Murray’s delivery from the corner drops to Hoban in the six-yard box.

He nods home to bring the Irish side level. What a turnaround for Dundalk!

82 – Qarabag are in for a nervy final 10 minutes.

They’ll no doubt be happy for their away goal, but considering how dominant they’ve been throughout this evening, they’ll be kicking themselves to concede such a sloppy goal.

Hoban has had very little to feed off all evening, he’s done exceptionally well to take his chance once it presented itself to him.

The crowd has lifted at Oriel Park. This could be a grandstand finish.

Georgie Kelly replaces Hoban.

87 – Zoubir’s shot fizzes past Rogers’ near post. Into the closing stages now.

90 – Qarabag showing their nerves in the last few minutes. Balls being hoofed in the air.

Kelly looks sharp up front, but can’t get on the end of a through ball.

Three additional minutes to be played.

92 – OVER THE BAR! That was the chance.

Dane Massey gets himself into the back post, Sean Hoare heads down and Massey gets it under control.

He’s leaning back as he shoots and blazes it over the bar.

What a chance that was.

93 – Well since then, Duffy gets a shot away and wins a corner…

Murray delivers. Punched away.

Flag

FT: Dundalk 1-1 Qarabag

Camera pans to Dane Massey at full time. His chance at the end, you don’t get many of those.

The first leg finishes 1-1.

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