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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 15 December, 2018

Mistakes and missed chances prove costly for Cork City in Poland

John Caulfield saw his side eliminated from the qualifying rounds of the Champions League by Legia Warsaw.

– Paul Dollery reports from Warsaw

WHILE THERE CAN be no disputing that the better team advanced to the second qualifying round, Cork City will be frustrated by the extent to which they contributed to their own elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Legia Warsaw.

Last week, Michal Kucharczyk’s spectacular strike was the only goal of a first leg that saw City squander several goalscoring chances. They failed to capitalise on some more opportunities last night, while simultaneously gifting a couple of very soft goals to the hosts.

John Caulfield applauds the fans Cork City manager John Caulfield applauds supporters after last night's game. Source: Tomasz Jastrzebowski/INPHO

Jose Kante, Miroslav Radovic and Carlitos helped Legia to a 3-0 victory on the night (4-0 on aggregate), but City are likely to feel that Kante’s 27th-minute opener and the penalty from Radovic with 17 minutes remaining were particularly preventable goals.

Kante doubled the Polish champions’ aggregate advantage when Peter Cherrie was marked absent from his goal after attempting to collect Mateusz Wieteska’s ball into the box. Radovic converted from the spot after Legia had been handed possession as a result of Garry Buckley’s mis-placed pass to Conor McCormack.

“When you come up against teams who are better than you technically — big clubs like Legia — you have to take your chances,” Cork City manager John Caulfield said in his post-match press conference at the Polish Army Stadium, where a crowd of 14,567 — including approximately 200 visitors from Leeside — witnessed Legia book their place in the next stage.

“Over the two games, Legia dominated possession. Obviously they’re very good, but at the same time we came out of Turner’s Cross last week and we didn’t score. That was disappointing, as it was tonight. Ultimately when you make mistakes and give away soft goals, and they don’t earn their goals, that makes it difficult.”

Despite last night’s result, Cork City’s involvement in Europe isn’t over for this season just yet. Instead they’ll now enter the Europa League in the third qualifying round, the draw for which is due to be made on Monday. The ties are scheduled for 9 and 16 August.

However, Caulfield insisted that his side’s focus will now switch back to domestic matters. Unless Derry City can overturn a two-goal deficit away to Dinamo Minsk tomorrow, Cork will welcome the Candystripes to Turner’s Cross on Monday, as they aim to keep the pressure on Premier Division leaders Dundalk, who they trail by four points.

Barry McNamee Barry McNamee in possession for Cork City in their second leg against Legia Warsaw. Source: Tomasz Jastrzebowski/INPHO

“Our most important game now is next Monday against Derry. That’s all we spoke about in the dressing room afterwards. That’s our bread and butter,” Caulfield said.

“You can see with the structure of the Champions League this year, the way seeding has gone it has made it very difficult for unseeded teams to get through. We never thought about the Europa League. That’s a month away.

“We have a lot of games to play before that in our own league. It’s all about us bouncing back and getting ready for Derry on Monday.”

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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