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Pat's ship five goals to crash out of the Champions League

The Saints were defeated 5-0 (6-1 on aggregate) by Legia Warsaw at Tallaght Stadium.

Saints midfielder Keith Fahey after the fourth goal goes in.
Saints midfielder Keith Fahey after the fourth goal goes in.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

St Patrick’s Athletic 0-5 Legia Warsawa

(Legia win 6-1 on aggregate)

THE BIGGER THE prize, the harder the fall.

Legia Warsawa hit St Patrick’s Athletic for five in Tallaght Stadium to knock them out of the Champions League and progress in their place to a tasty third round qualifier against Celtic next week.

The tie was out of Pat’s reach by the 69th minute when Michal Zyro struck to put Legia 2-0 up on the night and 3-1 up on aggregate, leaving the Saints needing three goals.

The Polish champions continued to pour on the misery, adding three more goals in the final eight minutes to turn this into a rout which scarcely reflected Pat’s performance over the two legs.

On paper the prize for both of these sides was exactly the same but for Pat’s, the carrot was so much bigger. Talk of the Aviva Stadium dangled in the air, along with the gate receipts and TV money that such a showpiece tie would surely bring.

A generous six-figure sum was mooted, the type of money that would be a game-changer for any League of Ireland club.

Bhoys boss Ronny Deila, his assistant John Collins and majority shareholder Dermot Desmond were in Dublin this evening to run the rule over their next opponent, and they won’t have been concerned by the scrappy first half that tilted the tie in favour of Henning Berg’s men.

Miroslav Radovic’s stoppage-time equaliser in Poland last week robbed Pat’s of a famous win and changed the complexion of the tie. When he struck again in the 25th minute, it left them facing an uphill battle.

Miroslav Radovic Miroslav Radovic celebrates scoring the opener. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The manner in which the Saints ceded the advantage will annoy manager Liam Buckley. Kenny Browne raced out of defence to press Zyro in possession when he might have been better advised to stay put. Derek Foran — a late replacement for Ken Oman at centre-half — allowed Radovic to drift free far too easily and he collected the slide-rule pass before finishing across Clarke.

There was a definite nervousness about Pat’s in that first half. They gave the ball away far too cheaply at times and could never get Chris Forrester, so often their livewire this season, into the game in meaningful positions.

That carelessness could have cost them as early as the 10th minute when captain Ger O’Brien turned back inside and passed the ball straight to Ivica Vrdoljak. Fortunately for O’Brien, Foran was alert enough to close the space and Clarke was able to get down to stop Ondrej Duda’s shot.

Pat’s only clear-cut chance of that first half came on 33 minutes. Keith Fahey picked Tomasz Jodlowiec’s pocket in midfield and played a one-two with Killian Brennan but his shot was deflected and then Legia keeper Dusan Kuciak did well to tip it around the post.

Buckley introduced Mark Quigley for Forrester at the break and with Pat’s only needing a goal to force the tie to extra-time at that stage, he surely intended to use his remaining changes to mount a cavalry charge.

That plan went out the window when O’Brien was forced off shortly after the hour mark and was replaced by Sean Hoare. By the time Browne also hobbled down the tunnel 10 minutes later, the tie was dead and Legia were heading into the third qualifying round.

Henning Berg Legia Warsaw manager Henning Berg. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Now well in the ascendancy, they peppered Clarke’s goal and forced some smart saves before they finally got their breakthrough on 69 minutes. The dangerous Michal Kucharczyk drew the tackle from Hoare and then skipped by him at the bye-line. He pulled the ball back to Zyro who finished through Clarke’s legs.

Everything after that only added insult to injury. Radovic bagged a second in the 82nd minute following fine work by the ever-lively Duda.

Substitute Marek Saganowski got in on the act three minutes from time and a night to forget was rounded off when Conan Byrne deflected the ball past Clarke and into his own net in stoppage time.

ST PAT’S: Clarke, O’Brien (c, Hoare 62), Browne (Lynch 73), Foran, Bermingham, Bolger, Fahey, Byrne, Brennan, Forrester (Quigley h/t), Fagan.

Subs not used: Gilmartin, Fitzgerald, Chambers, Kavanagh.

LEGIA WARSAW: Kuciak, Jodlowiec, Astiz, Brzyski, Duda (Saganowski 84), Rzezniczak, Broz, Radovic (Piech 88), Vrdoljak (c), Kucharczyk (Kosecki 85), Zyro.

Subs not used: Jalocha, Lewczuk, Junior, Pinto.

Referee: Andreas Ekberg (Sweden)

Here’s the first goal:
https://vine.co/v/M20OFqvB6mW

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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