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Dublin: 5°C Saturday 16 January 2021
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Rapid Vienna condemn Dundalk to another Europa League defeat

The Lilywhites were beaten 3-1 in Dublin tonight.

Cameron Dummigan.
Cameron Dummigan.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Dundalk 1

Rapid Vienna 3

A FOURTH-STRAIGHT Europa League defeat for Dundalk, though again they will be more frustrated than chastened. 

The prior and wild 4-3 defeat to tonight’s opponent’s in Austria offered Dundalk confidence they could get a result tonight if they sharpened up defensively, but they were again beaten through a mingling of opposition class with their own mistakes and misses. 

Dundalk were bewilderingly passive for the first half and so trailed by two goals at the break; both were goals of quality that nonetheless owed much to Dundalk’s careless possession and lax marking.

Nathan Odowu then missed a penalty in the opening stages go the second half, and though Chris Shields corrected that error from the spot shortly after, they were ultimately beaten again. 

The night began with a moment’s silence in memory of Diego Maradona, as the screens bore an image of the great man holding the Uefa Cup he won with Napoli. 

The tributes ended there: one can only imagine what Maradona might have made of the craggy, error-ridden start made by both sides. The opening goal was the game’s first true moment of quality, but even it was rooted in clumsiness. Sean Hoare twice lost possession on the right side of defence, and the ball was swept across to Christoph Knasmullner, who had time to advance, pick a spot, and ping the ball into the top corner from 30 yards. 

Falling behind after just 11 minutes did little to sharpen Dundalk’s senses. Minutes later Chris Shields played a reckless back pass right to Taxiarchis Fountas, whose curled effort was beaten away by Gary Rogers, restored to the line-up in place of Aaron McCarey. 

Dundalk were comfortably overwhelmed and switched from a back three to a flat back four, though it didn’t limit the damage. Just prior to the half-hour mark, Thorsten Shick glided by Michael Duffy to pick out Ercan Kara, who headed into the top corner. 

It was a fine header, but Rogers’ anguished roar after its concession was likely down to the fact Kara was utterly unmarked: Kara had not-too-subtly peeled off the back of the struggling Hoare as the ball was flighted in. 

Offensively Dundalk offered little, with a Duffy shot from range and a stooping Colovic header the limit of their ambition.

Dundalk’s night was complicated by the fact their manager, Filippo Giovagnoli, was banned from performing his duties, and so wasn’t allowed in the dressing room or on the touchline. Instead he stood in the stand, pacing the concourse and scribbling notes, with Shane Keegan taking charge.

Giovagnoli doesn’t have the necessary Uefa Pro Licence qualification to lead Dundalk in Europe, and while Uefa were lax on policing it in the club’s recent two games, Giovagnoli’s getting booked for dissent in the return game in Vienna led the governing body to crack down. 

Dundalk’s vestigial management team got busy at the break and made a triple substitution, and all three made an instant impact. First Daniel Kelly won a free-kick which was tapped quickly to Patrick McEleney, who flighted a sublime cross which Nathan Oduwa headed over from six yards. 

Oduwa was immediately presented with an even better chance. Paul Gartler took his goal kick short to Mateo Barac, who dawdled on the ball and then kicked Kelly as the winger pressed. The referee pointed to the spot, Oduwa confidently plucked the ball from a team-mate’s arms…and screwed his the spot kick horribly wide. David McMillan, who scored twice from the spot in the return game, was among there trio taken off two minutes earlier. 

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nathan-oduwa-misses-a-penalty Oduwa misses his penalty. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Shortly after, Dundalk were patronised by a cliche of the underdog.

If you don’t take your chances at this level… 

Rapid broke clear on a counter attack, and though Dundalk did flood bodies back, Kara curled a gorgeous effort beyond Rogers. Minutes later, however, Dundalk took a second chance from the spot. 

Again the Rapid defence were stupefyingly lax, so slow to clear their lines that Oduwa got himself between the ball and the downswing of Stojkovic’s ponderous clearance. Chris Shields took over penalty-taking duties, and made no mistake. 

Dundalk’s second-half performance was much-improved, though they couldn’t further reel in their opponents. Oduwa again spurned the best chance in the final minute, slicing over from 12 yards heaving been picked out by a delightful pull-back by Duffy.

They have now scored as many goals in this campaign as they did in the whole of the 2016 campaign under Stephen Kenny, though will almost certainly not match the four point total of four years ago. 

Instead they remain pointless after four games, with next week’s trip to Molde likely their best chance to get points – and additional prize money – on board. 

Tonight’s result officially means they won’t progress to the knockout stages, with next week’s trip to Molde likely their best chance to simply get points – and additional prize money – on board.  

Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Hoare (Daniel Kelly, HT), Andy Boyle, Daniel Cleary; Sean Gannon, Chris Shields, Greg Sloggett (Sean Murray, 71′), Cameron Dummigan (Darragh Leahy, 80′); Stefan Colovic (Patrick McEleney, HT|), David McMillan (Nathan Oduwa, HT), Michael Duffy 

Rapid Vienna: Paul Gartler; Filip Stojkovic, Maximilian Hofmann, Mateo Barac, Maximilian Ullmann; Christoph Knasmullner (Yusuf Demir, 80′), Srdjan Grahovac; Thorsten Schick, Taxiarchis Fountas (Lion Schuster, 65′), Melih Ibrahimoğlu (Kelvin Arase, 54′); Ercan Kara (Kohya Kitagawa, 65′)

Referee: Tamas Bognar (Hungary)

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from the Aviva Stadium

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