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'Chris Shields told me: can you please f**king let me kick a penalty?'

Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli reacts after his side advanced in the Europa League.

chris-shields-and-celebrates-winning-on-penalties Dundalk midfielder Chris Shields celebrates following their penalty-shootout win over Sheriff Tiraspol. Source: Aleksandar Djorovic/INPHO

DUNDALK MANAGER FILIPPO Giovagnoli insists that he never doubted his players, despite seeing them fall behind to an early goal away to Sheriff Tiraspol.

The Lilywhites have advanced to the play-off round of the Europa League after a dramatic penalty-shootout win over the champions of Moldova this evening.

“I’m really happy for the players,” Giovagnoli said afterwards. “I knew that we were going through because I trust this group. I’m always positive but they make me trust them because of the way they behave and the way they train. For me, I was sure.”

Sheriff hit the front in the eighth minute thanks to Veaceslav Posmac, but a Sean Murray header just before half-time levelled the game for the visitors.

The score remained 1-1 at the end of extra-time, before Dundalk ran out 5-4 winners on penalties. Stefan Colovic, Patrick Hoban, Sean Hoare, Patrick McEleney and Chris Shields all converted for the Louth side, with Gary Rogers crucially denying Faith Obilor.

“This is a really strong team and a huge club, really rich, with a lot of players,” Giovagnoli said of Sheriff Tiraspol, who have won 18 of the last 20 Moldovan league titles.

“I think they have more than 30 professional players and they make a lot of money, so what we did tonight is something special, even if I’m not surprised.”

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Giovagnoli, who succeeded Vinny Perth as Dundalk boss last month, revealed that there was no shortage of eager volunteers in his team for the penalty shootout. 

filippo-giovagnoli-before-the-game Filippo Giovagnoli pictured before the game. Source: Aleksandar Djorovic/INPHO

The Italian said: “They were asking me to take penalties, they were crazy. Chris Shields told me: can you please fucking let me kick a penalty? I said ‘yes, of course, which one?’ – and he wanted the fifth one. He was crazy.”

Dundalk’s reward is a home fixture next Thursday against Ki Klaksvik of the Faroe Islands, who recorded an impressive 6-1 win against Dinamo Tbilisi earlier this evening.

Despite tonight’s memorable result, Giovagnoli believes his players are capable of producing a higher level of performance as they look to secure a place in the group stages of the Europa League, which could earn the club upwards of €3 million.

“I think we can do better than that,” he added. “We are improving, we are learning, but we will do better.”

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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