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McEleney in action during the first leg.
McEleney in action during the first leg.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Dundalk must play 'the game of their lives' to set up mouth-watering Champions League tie with Celtic

The Lilywhites are in Norway for this evening’s second leg against Rosenborg.
Jul 19th 2017, 7:00 AM 4,371 11

DUNDALK HAVE TRAVELLED to Trondheim knowing progression from the Champions League second qualifying round would hand them a mouth-watering fixture.

Having drawn 1-1 in last week’s first leg, the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division champions face off with Rosenborg again this evening (live on RTÉ2, 6.15pm).

If they needed an added incentive, the Lilywhites are likely to meet Celtic in the next round. Brendan Rodgers’ side hold a 2-0 lead over North Irish outfit Linfield and, barring a major upset, the Hoops will await the winner of this tie.

Seven days ago, Dundalk were on top for spells against their Norwegian opponents and took an early lead through David McMillan — scoring his seventh European goal for the club.

However, they couldn’t capitalise by increasing their advantage and Rosenborg equalised just before the half-time break through centre-back Tore Reginussen, who bundled the ball over the line to hand them a valuable away goal.

Manager Stephen Kenny will have been bitterly disappointed to concede, but the team’s star man Patrick McEleney is confident they can find the back of the net at the Lerkendal Stadio tonight.

“I thought we started very well but the goal at half-time killed us a wee bit, it killed our momentum,” the Derry man told Dundalk’s club website. “But, I think it went well. I feel we were the better team overall.

“I don’t think having to score away from home is any different, I think we have scored goals no matter where we go and play and that’s always going to be our aim, so it’s no different.”

Real Madrid v Sevilla - UEFA European Super Cup - Real Madrid Training Session - Lerkendal Stadion Rosenborg's Lerkendal Stadion. Source: EMPICS Sport

Midfielder Robbie Benson added: “Hopefully we can start the game like we did last Wednesday and take the lead early and see how the game develops.

We know that we have to go out and score – that has served us well before. Even last year when we went out to FH, then again against BATE, and even against Legia Warsaw we knew we had to score.

“We played well in the second leg last year so hopefully it will be the same again on Wednesday. I think there will be a bit more of an onus on them to dominate the game more, especially in front of their own fans, so that is something we are going to have to manage on the night.”

Kenny, meanwhile, believes his players will need to produce “the game of their lives”.

“From our point of view, our incentive is huge to qualify for the next stage,” he said. “We had such a journey last year with all the games that it has given everyone a real taste for that.

“In order for us to progress we are going to have to put in one of the greatest performances in Irish football history. They have such a great pedigree. Everyone is really looking forward to it, spirits are good and we will have to play the game of our lives.”

Defender Niclas Vemmelend is Dundalk’s major injury concern after picking up a hamstring problem during the first leg, while captain Stephen O’Donnell could return to the starting line-up after he was an unused substitute in the fist leg.

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