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Dublin: 8°C Sunday 18 April 2021

Lopes goes from villain to hero as Shamrock Rovers earn positive Europa League result in Norway

The defender conceded a penalty but redeemed himself with a last-gasp goal.

Shamrock Rovers players celebrate after the game.
Shamrock Rovers players celebrate after the game.
Image: Marit Hommedal/INPHO

SHAMROCK ROVERS EARNED an encouraging 2-2 draw away to Brann in tonight’s Europa League qualifying first leg.

Roberto Lopes scored with a last-gasp header, after he had previously conceded a penalty from which the Norwegian side re-took the lead.

The Hoops got off to a difficult start as a spectacular long-range effort from Taijo Teniste gave the hosts the lead on 12 minutes.

The League of Ireland side got back in the game 15 minutes later, as Jack Byrne’s free kick was deflected in off Amer Ordagic.

Lopes had put pressure on the defender and claimed credit for the goal, but the defender will have been frustrated with what happened next.

Moments after his involvement in the equaliser, the 27-year-old Dubliner clumsily brought down Veton Berisha inside the box, with the player who was fouled confidently slotting the ensuing spot kick past Alan Mannus.

Having looked uncertain and error prone at times in the first half, Rovers delivered an much-improved display after going behind for the second time.

Aaron Greene had a couple of good opportunities to score, but was denied by Hakon Opdal on one occasion, while respective last-ditch challenges from Ruben Kristiansen and Teniste on the striker kept the hosts in front.

Ronan Finn also missed a good chance for the Irish side, while late on down the other end, Fredrik Haugen forced a decent save from Alan Mannus.

Just when it looked like it wasn’t going to be Rovers’ night, however, another dangerous Byrne delivery saw Lopes head home in stoppage time to atone for his earlier error.

It meant Stephen Bradley’s men left Brann Stadion with two vital away goals, which puts them in a strong position ahead of next Thursday’s second leg in Tallaght.

SK Brann: Hakon Opdal; Taijo Teniste, Bismar Acosta, Christian Eggen Rismark, Ruben Kristiansen; Fredrik Haugen, Amer Ordagic (Ruben Jenssen 75), Kristoffer Lokberg (Petter Strand 68); Gilbert Koomson (Daouda Bamba 83), Veton Berisha, Gilli Rolandsson.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Ethan Boyle, Greg Bolger, Sean Kavanagh, Trevor Clarke (Dylan Watts 65); Jack Byrne, Ronan Finn (Aaron McEneff 76); Aaron Greene (Graham Cummins 65).

Referee: Juxhin Xhaja (Albania)

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