Dublin: 13°C Sunday 20 June 2021


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We’re less than an hour away from kick off for this evening’s second leg.

The tie remains finely balanced after a first leg that ended 0-0.

Dundalk had much of the play at Oriel but struggled to break down their well-organised opponents.

Riga are expected to play in a more adventurous fashion this time around given that they have home advantage.

They largely sat back and invited pressure in the first game, though offered an increasing threat on the counter-attack as the game wore on.

So who do you think will go through?

Poll Results:

Dundalk (419)
Riga (183)

We really knuckled down [in the second leg] and I suppose we frustrated them a lot. I remember Graeme Souness had the ball and ‘Pop’ Flanagan was just standing off him. Souness said: ‘Come on, take it off me.’ Pop says: ‘You’re the one getting the big money, you pass me by’. He knew if he tried that, Pop would have kicked him up in the air. So we did go toe-to-toe with them over there.”

Ahead of today’s game, we spoke to former Dundalk player Mick Fairclough about the time the Lilywhites faced Liverpool in the 1982 European Cup. Read the full piece here.


We’re under way…

Dundalk have been playing it around the back so far, with Riga sitting off.

Interesting stat from Eir Sport — it’s Gary Rogers’ 41st European appearance, which brings him level with Ollie Cahill on the League of Ireland all-time list.


It’s been a fairly uneventful start.

Dundalk continue to see plenty of the ball without posing much of a threat.


Early booking for Prenga, as he cynically takes down Hoban off the ball, after the striker attempts to run through on goal.

It’s been a decent start for Dundalk.


McEleney plays an incisive through pass down the left, but Massey isn’t quite quick enough to latch onto it ahead of the defender.

It’s been similar enough to the first leg so far — Dundalk are controlling the play without looking especially threatening.


Dundalk get a throw-in in a promising position but Gannon puts it straight out for a goal kick.

Much like the first leg, they just haven’t properly functioned as an attacking unit yet.


Gannon does well down the right, getting past Rugins.

The full-back’s subsequent cross deflects off Prenga before being picked up by Ozols. There are claims of a backpass, but the referee ignores them.


A free kick is only half headed clear by Prenga.

It falls to McEleney on the edge of the area, but he doesn’t properly get hold of his shot.


Dundalk produce the best attempt of the game so far.

Mountney’s corner is cleared to the edge of the area, and McEleney catches it well this time, but his shot is parried away to safety by Ozols.


Good driving run by McEleney, who has been heavily involved of late.

Šarić cynically takes him down on the edge of the area, and the Riga player gets a booking as a result.


McEleney’s free kick is tame enough, as it curls straight into Ozols’s arms.

Moments later, McEleney is involved again. His lofted ball finds Mountney, whose point-blank header is saved by Ozols. It would have been offside anyway, but this is an encouraging spell for Dundalk.


Riga provide a reminder that they remain a threat down the other end.

Debelko dribbles with the ball on the edge of the area, before shooting just wide of Gary Rogers’ right-hand post.


So half-time, and it’s been very similar to the first leg.

Dundalk have been the better team without creating too many chances, while Riga have only sporadically threatened.

Gannon and McEleney, in particular, have caused the hosts problems.


The second half has begun…


Mountney’s free kick finds Massey, but his header goes wide.

Moments later, Mountney finds himself in a promising position down the right, but his touch is poor and Rugins recovers well to shepherd the ball out of play.


Riga make the first substitution of the game.

It’s one Brazilian for another, as Roger is replaced by Brisola.


Another change for Riga.

Bopesu, who was a threat down the flank in the first leg in particular, is replaced by Rakels


Rogers is alert to get to a long ball ahead of Debelko.

Meanwhile, Shields has been booked for a reckless challenge on Laizāns.


Riga have looked a bit better and seen more of the ball since those changes.

There’s half an hour remaining — we’ll be set for extra-time if the score stays as it is.


The ball is in the net but it’s offside.

It was still a lovely finish by Hoban, as he headed home a lofted through ball by Shields.


Dundalk made a substitution just before that chance.

Sean Murray is on in place of Mountney. He will play on the left, with McGrath on the right.


15 minutes remain.

You get the feeling one goal will win it now, though it remains very tight, with neither side dominant.


Dundalk make another change.

Benson is replaced by Daniel Kelly.


This game is becoming a bit more stretched now as players get tired and both sides search for a winner.

As I type, a Gannon cross is cleared away.

Just over five minutes of normal time remain, as extra-time beckons.


Dundalk are sitting back now, with the hosts in the ascendancy.

Hoban is the only player in the Riga half at the moment.


Daniel Kelly goes down in the box and the official books him.

Replays prove the referee correct — it’s a blatant dive.


There will be three minutes of stoppage time…


Riga are definitely finishing the stronger.

They’re controlling the play and dominating possession.

It remains tense, with both sides clearly worried about making a mistake.

Dundalk were probably the better side over the 90 minutes, but Riga have looked more likely to get a winner late on.

There remains very little between the teams though.

Here’s a look at that Daniel Kelly non-penalty incident…

Daniel Kelly does very well down the right, using his pace to evade a few defenders.

Prenga is well placed though to get to the cross ahead of Hoban.

Big chance for Riga!

Višņakovs comes inside and plays it to Debelko. The attacker’s first touch takes it away from the defender, but Rogers is out quickly and smothers the ball.

Meanwhile, Dundalk make another change — Shields is off and Jarvis is on, and that appears to be a straight swap.

There are claims for a penalty by the hosts.

They think Boyle blocks Višņakovs’s cross with his arm, though the referee waves play on.

Daniel Kelly finds space on the edge of the box, but his shot is saved by Ozols.

Kelly has made an impact down the right since coming on.

The second half is under way…

McEleney has an audacious effort from at least 30 yards out.

He’s capable of scoring from there, but it’s a comfortable save for Ozols on this occasion.

Superb last-ditch challenge from Hoare to deny Debelko a clear goalscoring opportunity, after latching on to a long ball.

Flag 112Mins


Prenga receives a second booking for cynically blocking off the run of Massey.

Dundalk might feel they can win this game before penalties now.


Andy Boyle bursts forward.

The defender then lays it off to Murray, whose powerful first-time drive from about 30 yards out goes inches wide.


And here’s a look at the moment Riga went down to 10 men…


Decent ball in from Jarvis, but Hoban can’t quite connect with it.

Looks like we’re set for penalties, with less than two minutes remaining.




So that’s that.

This tie will be decided by penalties.


It’s probably a fair result.

Both sides have been very well matched, and haven’t done enough in an attacking sense to win the game.


We’re set for the penalties…


1-0 Riga. Debelko scores.


1-1. Hoban scores.


2-1 Riga. Šarić scores.


2-2. Sean Murray scores.


3-2 Riga. Gabovs scores.


3-3. Jarvis scores.


Still 3-3. Brisola blazes his penalty over


3-3 still. Massey’s penalty is saved.


Panić’s penalty is saved by Rogers. 3-3 still.


3-3 still. Georgie Kelly misses the chance to win it!


Rakels scores. 4-3 Riga.


4-4. McGrath scores.


Pētersons’s penalty is saved by Rogers. 4-4.


Sean Hoare is the Dundalk hero, as he converts the winning penalty.

They will meet Qarabag in the next round.

Right, that’s all from me.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

You can read our match report here.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy


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