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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 22 February, 2019

Cork City boss turns attention back to title defence after dismal European exit

John Caulfield’s side were dumped out of the Europa League last night by Rosenborg.

John Caulfield dejected after the game Cork City manager John Caulfield after their 3-0 second-leg defeat to Rosenborg. Source: Ole Martin Wold/INPHO

AS HE REFLECTED on his side’s elimination at the hands of Rosenborg, Cork City manager John Caulfield admitted his frustration over their struggles in front of goal in Europe.

City’s 3-0 defeat in Trondheim last night saw them knocked out of the Europa League with a 5-0 loss on aggregate in the third qualifying round of the competition.

The Leesiders have now failed to score in their last six European fixtures, a run which stretches back to last season’s tie against AEK Larnaca, which they lost 2-0.

Caulfield’s side found themselves in the Europa League after falling at the first hurdle in the Champions League last month at the hands of Legia Warsaw, who were 4-0 winners.

City, who struck the woodwork twice last night against the Norwegian champions, were without the services of leading goalscorer Graham Cummins due to injury.

“It would have been great if we could have scored but scoring in Europe is very, very difficult,” Caulfield said in his post-match press conference. “People might say Graham was missed tonight but Graham has played in a number of the European matches.

“Scoring has been very difficult for us in Europe this year. I know that the opposition have been better than ourselves over the two legs because we’re playing at a higher level, but we had opportunities which we didn’t take. That’s probably the most disappointing thing.”

Alexander Soderlund scores his sides second goal Alexander Søderlund scores for Rosenborg. Source: Ole Martin Wold/INPHO

Rosenborg doubled their overall advantage by half-time thanks to goals from Besim Serbecic and Alexander Søderlund. Anders Trondsen completed the scoring for the hosts, who advance to a tie against Macedonian champions KF Shkëndija in the play-off round.

Caulfield’s side, who won a league and cup double in 2017, will now turn their attention back to domestic matters. Having booked their place in the FAI Cup’s second round last weekend, City entertain St Patrick’s Athletic in the Premier Division on Sunday.

Caulfield said: “Obviously we’re disappointed with the result. It’ll be interesting to see how Rosenborg do going forward. I think they’re a very good side. Unfortunately from our point of view the 25th minute in our last three European games has been a bad moment for us.

“Despite starting matches well, we’ve conceded and ultimately they’ve been soft goals. It was always an uphill battle then. Still, our lads stuck at it and kept going but you could see the quality of their pace and movement. Over the two games Rosenborg proved that they’re a better side so you have to take your hat off to them.”

He added: “We now have to try and win the league and the cup. That’s what we did last year. We’re top of the league and we need to try and achieve that again.”

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