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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 15 December, 2018

European heartbreak for Rovers after 16-year-old Bazunu finally concedes

A 74th-minute goal at Tallaght Stadium gave Swedish side AIK the upper hand in the Europa League tie.

Daniel Sundgren scores the first goal Daniel Sundgren scores for AIK. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 0

Brendan Graham reports from Tallaght Stadium

SHAMROCK ROVERS WERE beaten at home to AIK this evening, with the only goal of the game coming from Daniel Sundgren in the 74th minute.

It was the first goal conceded in senior football by the Hoops’ 16-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, who had kept clean sheets in his four previous outings in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

Stephen Bradley would have been very pleased with his side’s start, with Rovers enjoying the majority of the possession and being brave enough to push forward and create what they could in the vicinity of Oscar Linner’s goal.

Dylan Watts made his Rovers — and European — debut, and he and Joel Coustrain stood out for the Hoops in the opening half.

A one-two between Joel Coustrain and Ethan Boyle concluded with a through ball for Boyle, as he advanced into the box. Boyle squared the ball in an attempt to pick out Dan Carr, but Linner made himself big to keep Rovers at bay.

Sam Bone and Enock Kofi Adu Sam Bone of Shamrock Rovers under pressure from AIK's Enock Kofi Adu. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The home side showed great intensity in the game and didn’t give the Swedes a second on the ball, which showed as the visitors took a long time to settle.

Coustrain was close to finding Carr in the box on several occasions from the right but the few balls he played across were slightly too heavy and left Carr with too much to do.

The first real signs of AIK coming into the game came shortly before the break when Bazunu was given his first real test, but the teenager dealt with Yasin’s low shot towards the corner well by guiding the ball past his post.

Chances were exchanged at both ends in the opening twenty minutes of the second half. A Watts shot from distance was spilled by Linner. Bazunu then made a fantastic double save, firstly getting above Goitom to punch the ball clear, before getting down low to deny Yasin with a shot close to goal.

The only goal of the game came with 16 minutes of normal time remaining. AIK’s patience paid off as they took the lead in Tallaght and secured a crucial away goal.

A neat sequence of passes between Goitom and Tarik Elyounoussi left Elyounoussi with space to turn and play a quick ball into the path of Sundgren, who calmly slotted the ball beyond Bazunu.

Bradley brought on Roberto Lopes, new signing Aaron Greene and youngster Aaron Bolger in the closing 10 minutes as they chased a goal, but the closest they came was a Greene shot from distance which was saved.

The second leg is scheduled for next Thursday evening in Stockholm, with the winners advancing to a meeting with Cliftonville (Northern Ireland) or Nordsjælland (Denmark).

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Gavin Bazunu, Joey O’Brien (Roberto Lopes, 83), Lee Grace, Ethan Boyle, Sean Kavanagh, Sam Bone, Ronan Finn, Greg Bolger (Aaron Bolger, 77), Dylan Watts, Joel Coustrain, Daniel Carr (Aaron Greene, 75).

AIK: Oscar Linner, Alexander Milosevic, Per Karlsson, Robin Jansson, Daniel Sundgren, Kristofer Olsson, Enoch Kofi Adu, Haukur Hauksson, Ahmad Yasin (Danni Advic, 78), Henok Goitom, Tarik Elyounoussi (Stefan Silva, 89).

Referee: Alexander Harkam (Austria)

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Brendan Graham

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