Dundalk celebrations after Sean Murray's goal. Aleksandar Djorovic/INPHO
De Town

Dramatic win over Sheriff Tiraspol moves Dundalk a step closer to Europa League group stages

A penalty-shootout was required to settle the tie in Transnistria.

Sheriff Tiraspol 1
Dundalk 1

(Dundalk win 5-4 on penalties)

DUNDALK ARE JUST one win away from qualifying for the group stages of the Europa League after advancing at the expense of Sheriff Tiraspol, the champions of Moldova.

With the teams still level at 1-1 following extra-time in their third qualifying round tie, the Lilywhites emerged victorious from a penalty shootout this evening in Transnistria.

The League of Ireland Premier Division champions now progress to a home clash with Ki Klaksvik of the Faroe Islands next Thursday, with a lucrative prize on offer.

Dundalk will be aiming to reach the Europa League’s group stages for the second time in five seasons, although their opponents in the play-off round will travel in confidence after a resounding 6-1 win over Dinamo Tbilisi.

The early signs were ominous for Dundalk against Sheriff as they fell behind with just over seven minutes played, when a Veaceslav Posmac header from a corner beat Gary Rogers.

Moments later, Filippo Giovagnoli’s side lost the dependable Sean Gannon – who was operating on the right side of midfield instead of in his usual full-back berth – to injury.

Dundalk gradually grew in confidence, however, and they deservedly got themselves back on level terms with a fine goal in first-half stoppage time.

Michael Duffy gathered the ball on the left, before delivering an in-swinging cross that tempted Sheriff goalkeeper Zvonimir Mikulic to come and collect. Before he could do so, Sean Murray arrived to head in the equaliser.

Goalscoring opportunities were scarce for both sides in the second half, although Greg Sloggett did put the ball in the net for Dundalk, only for the goal to be ruled out for a foul on Mikulic. Duffy also went close with a last-gasp headed effort, but extra-time was to follow.

With the additional period failing to produce a breakthrough for either side, penalties were required to settle the contest.

Dundalk converted all five of their attempts, with Stefan Colovic, Patrick Hoban, Sean Hoare, Patrick McEleney and Chris Shields finding the net.

The home side were denied with their second penalty by Rogers, whose save of Faith Obilor’s effort proved to be decisive in a 5-4 shootout win.

Tonight’s result is worth an additional €300,000 to Dundalk, but much greater financial rewards will await if they can go one step further next week.

Sheriff Tiraspol: Mikulic; N’Diaye, Obilor, Posmac, Cristiano; Peteleu (Petro, 64), Mioc (Veloso, 99), Parra; Bliznichenko (Kapic, HT), Castaneda, Kolovos (Dos Santos, 88).

Dundalk: Rogers; Hoare, Gartland, Cleary, Leahy; Shields, Sloggett; Gannon (Mountney, 13) (Kelly, 88), Murray (McEleney, 72), Duffy (Colovic, 102); Hoban.

Referee: Aleksandar Stavrev (North Macedonia).

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