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Dublin: 2 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019


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Good evening and welcome along to our live coverage of what is, and what promises to be, a memorable night for Dundalk FC, the SSE Airtricity League and Irish football.

Just 180 minutes separates the League of Ireland champions and a place in the Champions League group stages — but standing between them and the holy grail is 11-time Polish champions Legia Warsaw.

Thousands of Dundalk fans have made the trip down to the capital for one of the great days in the club’s history. Kick-off is at 7.45pm and we’ll have the all-important team news shortly.

Big news is that Ronan Finn — who went off injured during the second leg win over BATE — is named on the bench while Patrick McEleney starts. The returning Brian Gartland is also among the replacements.

A large crowd is expected at the Aviva Stadium (officially the Dublin Arena this evening due to Uefa sponsorship rules) with the club confirming over 24,000 tickets had been pre-sold as of yesterday.

Lets hope the awful weather in Dublin doesn’t deter Irish football fans coming out to support Dundalk, however.

A view of the Dublin Stadium ahead of the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A view of the Dublin Stadium ahead of the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ryan Bailey here with updates throughout the evening, while Ben Blake is in position at the Aviva Stadium:

15 minutes from kick-off on a massive night for Irish football and the rain has stopped at Lansdowne Road, thankfully. The stadium is still relatively empty at the moment, with a pocket of Legia Warsaw fans down in the North Stand. Hopefully the weather hasn’t put people off making the trip.

The teams are out and it’s time for the Champions League anthem. It looks like a really healthy crowd and we’re just moments away from kick-off now.


Kick-off! We’re underway with Dundalk playing from right to left as we look in this first half.


Dundalk will look to get their foot on the ball early doors and just settle into the game. Rain continues to hammer down.


Chance! Bright start from Dundalk. They spread it from left to right and John Mountney gets his cross away. Patrick McEleney rises highest but can’t quite keep his header down.


First test of Dundalk’s rearguard as Legia win a corner. Stephen Kenny’s men deal with it comfortably and look to spring forward through Horgan.


McMillan, the goalscoring hero from the last round, is fouled and Dundalk win the free-kick just inside the Legia half.


Horgan does well down the left again and digs out a cross, which the goalkeeper is forced to palm away. These are encouraging signs for the home team.


An issue in the Port Tunnel has meant a lot of fans were delayed getting to the ground and consequently it is filling up as the game progresses.


Another sight of goal for the lively McEleney but, for the second time, his radar is just off as his long-range effort fails to trouble Malarz.


15 minutes in and it’s still goalless. Not a lot to shout about so far but Stephen Kenny will be pleased with the way his side have started in pretty awful conditions.


This is dangerous. Stephen O’Donnell commits the foul on the edge of the area and is booked for his troubles — but the resulting free-kick strikes the wall.


Rogers called into action again as he tips away a dangerous cross. Dundalk eventually clear their lines but Legia just growing in stature as the half wears on.


That booking has ruled Dundalk captain O’Donnell out of the return leg in Poland.


Close! Nikolic runs in behind and flicks it back for Kucharczyk to strike on the half-volley. He cuts across it and fortunately for Dundalk it flies narrowly wide of the right upright.


Dundalk are struggling to get their foot on the ball now. Legia just starting to exert their dominance as we approach the half hour mark.


Dundalk win their first corner of the game but when it’s swung in, the referee penalises a white shirt for jostling at the back post.


Good passage of play their for Dundalk. O’Donnell, who is comfortably the best player out there, spreads it wide and Gannon gets down the wing to win a corner. John Mountney to take…


But the Legia defence deal with it and Dundalk have to start again.


Close! Brilliant from McEleney as he gets away from his marker to dink one through for Horgan. The ball just won’t come down for the winger and Legia get numbers back to snuff out the danger. Much better from the Lilywhites.


A great crowd inside Lansdowne Road now.

Dundalk v Legia Warsaw - UEFA Champions League Qualifying - Play-Off First Leg - Aviva Stadium Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images


Odjidja is booked for body-checking Shields as we enter the final minutes of the half.


Plenty of encouraging signs for Dundalk throughout that first half. They created a couple of openings and looked reasonably solid at the back, with Rogers being forced into action just once.

Stephen O’Donnell’s booking is, however, a huge blow as he’ll now miss Tuesday’s return leg.


Teams back out on the pitch for the second half. C’mon the Town!


Back underway.


Chance! Dundalk have come out of the blocks quickly as Horgan and Shields combine twice in quick succession. The former’s ball in is met by Shields’ head but it lacked power and then the roles were reversed as Horgan’s curling effort was straight at the ‘keeper.


PENALTY! Boyle is penalised for blocking the shot with his elbow.

Flag 56Mins

GOAL! Dundalk 0-1 Legia Warsaw (Nikolic)

And it’s slotted away into the left corner by Nikolic. That’s incredibly harsh on Dundalk, who had started this second half well.


That was incredibly harsh. Boyle had his back turned and dived in to block the shot, which struck him on the elbow.



Clips via RTÉ


Dundalk look for an instant reply. Mountney is felled 30 yards from goal but Horgan’s effort lacks power and placement and it’s easy for the ‘keeper. At the other end, Legia are looking increasingly dangerous.


First change for Dundalk as Stephen Kenny searches for a way back into the game. Ronan Finn is on for Mountney.


Dundalk are just getting a bit sloppy. They appear to be tiring somewhat and Legia are just beginning to turn the screw. Dangerous times for the Lilywhites.


Final 15 minutes now for Dundalk. While they’re pushing for an equaliser, they do have to be careful and not leave themselves open at the back. Since the penalty, the League of Ireland side have just looked a bit more exposed and Legia are threatening every time they venture forward. Big final quarter coming up.


David McMillan makes way for Ciaran Kilduff while Shields is replaced by Robbie Benson. Dundalk enjoying a good period of possession.


Dundalk looking for a penalty as Kilduff is barged over in the area but the referee isn’t interested. 9 minutes left on the clock.


Last couple of minutes now. Dundalk searching for an equaliser but not doing it with any real conviction.


Chance! That may just have been the chance. Lovely build-up play and Finn gets the break as it falls to Kilduff inside the area — but the striker snatches at it and it flies over.


Much better from Dundalk. Suddenly a bit or urgency and they’re stretching Legia for the first time. McEleney gets in behind and knocks it back for Horgan. With two to aim for, he needs to find a decent cross but can’t clear the first man.


Three minutes of stoppage time, and we’re already a minute into that.


Oh that’s so, so cruel. Literally the last kick of the game and Dundalk are cut apart. Jodlowiec plays a delightful reverse ball and Prijovic is there to chip over Rogers. The Lilywhites did not deserve that.


A bitter pill to swallow for Dundalk and their band of supporters here tonight but at the top level you can be punished in a split second and we saw that tonight. Stephen Kenny’s side head to Poland with a mountain to climb but have nothing to lose next Tuesday.

Thanks for joining us this evening and we’ll have plenty of reaction to come on the site.

About the author:

Ryan Bailey