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Dublin: 19 °C Thursday 6 August, 2020

Late goal hurts Dundalk's Europa League hopes

Slovan Bratislava emerged 1-0 victors in tonight’s first leg.

Dundalk's Andy Boyle reacts to a missed chance.
Dundalk's Andy Boyle reacts to a missed chance.
Image: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

Updated at 22.26

DUNDALK HAVE BEEN left with a difficult task ahead of the second leg, after losing 1-0 to Slovan Bratislava in the Europa League third round qualifier in Slovakia this evening.

The Irish side kept their opponents at bay for much of the contest, but Dávid Holman’s 86th-minute strike earned the hosts a narrow victory on the night.

The sides will meet again next Tuesday at Tallaght Stadium, with the winner of the tie set to face the loser of the Champions League qualifier between Ajax and PAOK in the next round.

Ahead of the game, the Irish side made two changes from their disappointing Champions League exit at the hands of Qarabag FK in Baku. Sean Murray and John Mountney came into the starting XI, as Sean Hoare and Patrick McEleney made way.

The Lilywhites began brightly against a side who, like them, are their country’s reigning league champions and also suffered a disappointing Champions League qualification exit against Sutjeska Nikšić of Montenegro.

The visitors initially enjoyed plenty of possession and territory, though it was a cagey first half, with both teams struggling to create clear-cut chances.

Michael Duffy had probably the game’s best opportunity up to that point shortly before the half-hour mark. The winger latched on to Pat Hoban’s defence-splitting pass, but goalkeeper Dominik Greif got down well to prevent a shot going inside his near post.

From the subsequent set piece, Andy Boyle got on the end of Sean Murray’s corner, but Greif was again alert to make a close-range save.

The hosts also had a handful of promising attacking moments prior to the break, with the lively Mohammed Rharsalla going close from distance on more than one occasion.

However, the opening 45 ended all square, with not much between the sides and Dundalk looking relatively comfortable.

Bratislava upped the tempo in the second half though, growing increasingly dominant and creating better chances as the game developed.

Four minutes after the break, a dangerous ball in fell to Rafael Ratao, whose shot was blocked by Gary Rogers, before Juij Medvedev could only find the side-netting on the rebound.

Dundalk were sitting further back and living increasingly dangerously. In the 66th minute, there were strong claims for a penalty as a Myenty Abena shot came off Boyle’s hand, with a few supporters showing their disgust at the referee’s decision to play on by hurling plastic containers in the direction of the visitors’ goal.

Rogers was again called into action with 20 minutes remaining, as the veteran goalkeeper made a brilliant save to keep out Marin Ljubicic’s powerful header from Holman’s well-executed set piece.

But just as it appeared the League of Ireland side were set to hang on for a creditable draw, Holman was on hand to score a late winner.

An initial long-range effort from substitute Dejan Drazic came back off the post, but the 26-year-old Hungarian international coolly slotted home on the rebound to produce roars of joy and relief among the home supporters.

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Dundalk might have rescued a last-gasp draw, but Greif made his best save of the night, as John Mountney’s header from a Jamie McGrath cross was tipped onto the crossbar.

The Lilywhites will go into the second leg encouraged by the chances they created but knowing that an improved performance will be necessary to turn the tie around.

Slovan Bratislava: Dominik Greif; Jurij Medvedev, Myenty Abena, Vasil Bozhikov, Vernon De Marco; Joeri de Kamps, Marin Ljubičić; Rafael Ratão (Dejan Drazic 67), Dávid Holman, Mohammed Rharsalla (Erik Daniel 77); Andraz Sporar (Aleksandar Cavric 80). 

Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Sean Murray (Patrick McEleney 70); John Mountney, Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy (Daniel Kelly 87); Patrick Hoban (Cameron Dummigan 87). 

Referee: Frank Schneider (France).

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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