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Dundalk bow out of the Europa League after narrow defeat in Israel

The Louth club lost out to Maccabi Tel-Aviv but results elsewhere meant they couldn’t qualify anyway.

The Maccabi players congratulate Dor Miha as Patrick McEleney trudges away.
The Maccabi players congratulate Dor Miha as Patrick McEleney trudges away.
Image: Dov Halickman/INPHO

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 2

Dundalk 1

DUNDALK’S EUROPEAN ADVENTURE is over.

Needing to earn at least a score draw and hope Zenit St Petersburg would do them a favour by overcoming AZ Alkmaar in Group D’s other match, the Lilywhites were undone by individual errors away to Maccabi Tel-Aviv this evening.

In the end, the Dutch side claimed a 3-2 victory to clinch the second qualification spot meaning the result at the Netanya Stadium in Israel proved largely insignificant — although avoiding defeat would have almost certainly seen the Lilywhites seeded in next season’s Champions League qualifiers.

The Dundalk team Dundalk's starting XI. Source: Dov Halickman/INPHO

After a cagey opening 20 minutes, the home side struck first. Brian Gartland, normally a rock at the back, was robbed of possession by Tal Ben Chaim and Maccabi’s star man played in Haris Medunjanin.

Goalkeeper Gary Rogers came rushing out off his line and brought the Bosnian midfielder down to concede a penalty and earn himself a yellow card. Ben Chaim made no mistake from the spot — slotting the ball down the middle.

But Dundalk’s response was swift. Daryl Horgan showed the type of skill that has linked him with a move to Preston North End before the ball was worked out to Chris Shields.

His cut-back picked out Horgan’s run but defender Maccabi Eli Dasa bundled the ball over the line to level the terms with an own goal.

Seven minutes before half-time, another mistake allowed Shota Arveladze’s men to restore their advantage. Shields lost possession in the middle of the park and Ben Chaim found Dor Miha.

His left-footed effort went through the legs of Gartland and under the arms of Rogers, who probably should have done better.

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As the sides left the field for the half-time interval, news was coming through that things weren’t going Dundalk’s way elsewhere as AZ were leading Zenit. The Eredivisie club would be going through as things stood.

Daryl Horgan celebrates their goal with David McMillan and Robbie Benson The Dundalk players celebrate their goal. Source: Dov Halickman/INPHO

Kenny brought on Paddy Barrett for Gartland at the start of the second half and it was Maccabi who looked more likely to add their tally. Ben Chaim drilled a shot at the chest of Rogers and later set up Miha, who sliced high and wide.

Ciaran Kilduff, super-sub when the sides met at Tallaght Stadium back in September, was sprung from the bench for the final ten minutes but spurned their best chance to equalise in injury-time.

The striker got in front of goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic to meet Horgan’s well-placed corner but his connection was all wrong and the opportunity went to waste.

With AZ edging out Zenit, progression was taken out of Dundalk’s hands anyway and their wonderful campaign comes to a disappointing end.

MACCABI TEL-AVIV: Rajkovic; Dasa, Ben Haim, Tibi, Ben Harush; Igiebor (Benayoun 81), Golasa (Alberman 80), Medunjanin; Miha, Kjartansson, Ben Chaim (c) (Ben Basat 89).

DUNDALK: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland (Barrett 46), Boyle (c), Massey; Shields; McEleney (Kilduff 79), Finn, Benson, Horgan; McMillan.

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Ben Blake

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