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Derry City hit for 6 on a miserable night in Denmark

There are still 90 minutes to play but Derry’s European hopes are set to end at the first hurdle.

Marc Del Hende celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates FC Midtjylland players celebrate after their opening goal. Source: Bo Amstrup/INPHO

FC Midtjylland 6
Derry City 1

Simon Collins reports from Herning, Denmark

DERRY CITY SUFFERED their biggest European defeat since joining the League of Ireland and a harsh lesson, as they were outclassed by slick Danish Super Liga outfit FC Midtjylland in the first leg of their Europa League first round qualifier.

It was always going to be a daunting task for Kenny Shiels’ troops having been paired with the second-highest ranked of the 100 teams at the first round stage, but they were completely blown apart by a rampant Danish side as their European adventure was ended emphatically at the first hurdle.

After conceding with just three minutes played, it looked ominous for the Foylesiders who were without injured regulars Barry McNamee (ankle) and Conor McDermott (groin).

Ronan Curtis did manage to net an away goal in the second half, while he was denied a certain penalty moments after the restart with the score at 3-0.

Shiels had warned before kick-off about the Danish club’s threat from set-pieces, as they were second behind only Atletico Madrid in Europe in terms of their goals from set-piece ratio.

It’s been City’s achilles heel during their SSE Airtricity League campaign this season and their defensive frailties were exposed early on at the Arena Herning, as the Danes quickly took control.

Rory Holden Derry City's Rory Holden in possession. Source: Bo Amstrup/INPHO

Former AS Monaco midfielder Jakob Poulsen, capped 35 times for Denmark, sent a free-kick towards the back post where centre-half Marc Dal Hende rose unopposed to send a powerful header past City skipper Gerard Doherty to give the hosts the lead.

It was a disastrous start for the Candystripes and things could so easily have gotten worse. However, imposing Nigerian striker Paul Onuachu wasted a chance before new Bulgarian signing Zsolt Korcsmar sent another free header wide of Doherty’s left-hand post from Poulsen’s corner kick.

With the game still in the balance, Derry managed to get on the ball and Aaron McEneff had the visitors’ first shot at goal on 12 minutes after an encouraging spell, but it sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

But that effort certainly sparked Derry into life and Nathan Boyle did superbly on the right flank, showing great power and strength to burst past his marker before drilling his right-footed shot into the side netting.

But on 15 minutes Midtjylland doubled their advantage from Poulsen’s corner-kick, which fell to Kristian Riis. His side-footed strike found its way through a sea of legs and nestled into the net.

It was a bitter blow for City but they responded brightly and 20-year-old left back Ben Doherty made a promising run inside the penalty area before pulling it back when he probably should have unleashed a shot. A Midtjylland defender got a touch before it was cleared off line on 18 minutes.

City’s lone striker Rory Patterson then managed to test debutant goalkeeper Jesper Hansen with a first-time shot but the Danish stopper saved well to deny the former Northern Ireland international.

Kenny Shiels It was a tough night for Derry City manager Kenny Shiels. Source: Bo Amstrup/INPHO

With 10 minutes to go before the interval it was the turn of Doherty to come to his side’s rescue when a poor backpass from McEneff put Onuachu one-on-one with the Derry keeper, who stood tall to make a superb block.

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The Danes threatened again through Onuachu, who peeled off Aaron Barry at the back post before rising to meet Del Hande’s cross from the left, but his header clipped the top of the crossbar.

As the teams prepared to go in at the break, Derry suffered a huge blow when dangerman Onuachu was brought to ground by Doherty. Referee Markus Hameter didn’t hesitate when pointing to the spot.

Up stepped skipper Poulsen, who put further daylight between the teams with a clinical spot-kick and there looked to be no way back for the Foylesiders as they faced an uphill task at the break.

City had strong claims for a penalty of their own moments after the restart when Curtis appeared to be clipped by a Midtjylland defender but he stayed on his feet and the Austrian referee waved play-on, much to the annoyance of an irate Shiels on the touchline.

But the Danes were soon out of sight, with two goals inside three minutes from Swedish forward Simon Kroon. On 59 minutes Kroon made a superb run in behind the Derry defence and picked up a superb pass from Del Hende, before cheekily flicking it past Doherty.

Three minutes later he was in again, this time Hassan sent him through and Kroon finished expertly for his second of the night and Midtjylland’s fifth.

Ronan Curtis with Andre Roemer Derry City's Ronan Curtis under pressure from Andre Roemer of FC Midtjylland. Source: Bo Amstrup/INPHO

Derry did manage to give the travelling support something to cheer about on 66 minutes when Boyle did well to dispossess a Midtjylland defender before squaring the ball to Curtis, who was left with the simplest of tasks to net an away goal.

There was no let-up for the Candstripes, however, and after Alexander Sorloth had a goal ruled out for offside, Kroon was once again denied by a brilliant save from Derry’s 35-year-old goalkeeper Doherty, who stood his ground well.

McEneff received a pass from Nicky Low and cannoned his 25-yard strike off the crossbar, but after Poulsen also hit the framework the Danish outfit added a sixth through Bozhidar Kraev.

Aaron Barry cleared Poulsen’s lobbed effort off the line bravely with six minutes to go as Midtjylland finished as they started.

The six goals renders next Thursday’s second leg at the Showgrounds in Sligo meaningless, but it will have been an invaluable experience for City’s young players.

FC Midtjylland: J Hansen; A Remer, Z Korcsmar, K Riis, M Del Hende; T Sparv, J Poulsen, J Drachmann (G Wikheim, HT); R Hassan (B Kraev, 72), P Onuachu (A Sorloth, 57), S Kroon.

Derry City: G Doherty; H Monaghan (L Schubert, 62), A Barry, D Jarvis, B Doherty; R Curtis, N Low, A McEneff, N Boyle (M Timlin, 84); R Holden; R Patterson (J Daniels, 74).

Referee: Markus Hameter (Austria).

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About the author:

Simon Collins

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