Dundalk crash out of the Europa League on a sobering night in Cyprus

AEK Larnaca scored four times to ease into a third qualifying round clash with Sturm Graz.

Ivan Trickovski celebrates his second goal Ivan Trickovski celebrates after scoring his second goal for AEK Larnaca. Source: Savvides Press Sports/INPHO

AEK Larnaca 4
Dundalk 0

(AEK Larnaca win 4-0 on aggregate)

Caoimhín Reilly reports from Larnaca

DUNDALK SUFFERED AN emphatic exit from the Europa League qualifiers in Cyprus this evening after a disastrous first-half display.

Stephen Kenny’s men trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes and a third from Larnaca ensured the contest was all but over by half-time.

Macedonian international Ivan Trickovski was the home side’s star man. He scored twice and could have had two more but for last-ditch interventions as Dundalk went to the break three in arrears.

After a dominant start, the Cypriots took the lead when Trickovski broke clear of the Lilywhites’ stretched defence, controlled Apostolos Giannou’s through-ball and fired low past Gary Rogers.

Dundalk team Photo The Dundalk team pictured before the game. Source: Savvides Press Sports/INPHO

The task became arduous just eight minutes later as the visiting rearguard was again caught suspect. A long punt forward saw Sean Hoare lose sight of Tete, and the tricky Spaniard made him pay by controlling and clipping past Rogers.

Dundalk felt aggrieved soon after when Jamie McGrath looked to have been caught in the penalty area by Hector Hevel. Their anger was compounded when Trickovski added a third from close range on 38 minutes, having had his previous effort saved.

Patrick McEleney and Sean Gannon were introduced at half-time and they played their part as the Lilywhites competed strongly in the second half.

The former was especially influential as the service to Patrick Hoban improved. The Galwegian went close with two headers, secondly drawing a fine stop from Tono Ramirez, while Dane Massey and Michael Duffy also spurned openings.

Acoran Barrera Reyes with Chris Shields Dundalk's Chris Shields tangles with Acoran of AEK Larnaca. Source: Savvides Press Sports/INPHO

However, that merely served to worsen the sinking feeling as the Lilywhites crashed out, conceding a fourth three minutes from time when substitute Joan Tomas slid to the net just seconds after being introduced.

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AEK LARNACA: Tono Ramirez; Igor Silva, Joan Truyols, Mikel Gonzalez, Thomas Ioannou; Jorge Larena (Nacho Cases, 71); Acoran (Joan Tomas, 88), Ivan Trickovski, Hector Hevel, Tete (Konstantinos Konstantinou, 81); Apostolos Giannou.

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Hoare (Dane Massey, 63), Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary (Sean Gannon, HT), Dean Jarvis; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; Dylan Connolly (Patrick McEleney, HT), Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy; Pat Hoban.

Referee: Fran Jovic (Croatia).

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Caoimhín Reilly

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