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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Tommy Dickson/INPHO
# hoop nightmare
Shamrock Rovers suffer major European blow after Finnish side stun them in Tallaght
Pat Fenlon’s side are up against it now as they face into a tricky return leg.

FINNISH SIDE ROVANIEMI of Lapland earned their first European win since 1989 tonight in Tallaght when they beat Shamrock Rovers 2-0 in their Europa League first round qualifier.

Killian Brennan came back into the Hoops team having missed Friday’s 0-0 draw with Cork, and he watched on as his brother Gavin struck an early shot wide.

Rovaniemi arrived in Dublin off the back of two successive league wins, and although they failed to excite early on, they found themselves ahead just before the half hour mark.

Craig Hyland gave away a needless corner kick, and although it was over-hit to the back post, Janne Saksela gathered the ball and fired it low into the box where it eventually came off Jakko Lahdenmaki and went in.

Jean Fridolin Nganbe celebrates after the game Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Again Rovers looked comfortable after that, but as has been the case in many of their games recently, they lacked penetration in the key areas, and never tested Antonio Reguero in the Rovaniemi goal before half time.

The Finnish outfit on the other hand could have been two up but for a superb block by Sean Heaney to deny Robert Taylor, while Juha Pirinen struck the rebound just over the Rovers crossbar.

After the break both sides wasted early freekicks in good areas, while the introduction of Dean Clarke almost reaped an instant reward with just under an hour played when he forced Reguero into his first real save with a powerful shot to the near post.

Pat Fenlon reacts Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

It was a decent period for Pat Fenlon’s men, but when Rovaniemi introduced Aleksandr Kokko, their top scorer last season, with 20 left on the clock he immediately created an opening for Sakselsa who finished low to the bottom corner.

Miele hit the crossbar in the minutes that followed, and Gary McCabe and Sean Boyd were both brought off the bench in an attempt to rescue something, but neither could do much on a night when Rovers really underperformed.

Shamrock Rovers XI: Hyland, Cornwall, Heaney, O’Connor, Madden, K Brennan (McCabe, 75), G Brennan (D Clarke,56), Cregg, McPhail (Boyd, 86), Miele, Shaw.

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Subs not used: Murphy, Webster, Blanchard, T Clarke.

Rovaniemi XI: Reguero, Lahdenmaki, Saksela, Pirinen, Taylor, Nganbe (Muinonen, 70), Saine (Makitalo, 82), Mravec, Hamalainen, John (Kokko, 69), Jammeh.

Subs not used: Beck, Kalermo, Saxman, Heikkila.

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