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St Pat's crashed out of Europa League at the hands of Latvian opponents tonight

The Latvian side were too strong in Inchicore.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

St Patrick’s Athletic 0
Skonto FC 2

(Skonto FC win 4-1 on aggregate)

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC suffered defeat for only the second time in 13 European games at Richmond Park tonight, and in doing so dropped out of the Europa League qualifiers, ultimately losing 4-1 on aggregate to Skonto FC.

Both teams knew before kick-off the prize for the winners was a second qualifying round tie against Debrecen of Hungary, and there were only minor alterations to the starting teams from last week.

Lee Desmond replaced the injured Sean Hoare, and Conan Byrne came in for James Chambers, while Skonto’s Vladislavs Sorokins replaced Aleksejs Visnakovs.

Indeed, it was the visitors who had the best of the few early chances when Edgars Jermolajevs whipped a free kick from the edge of the area just past Brendan Clarke’s post.

Byrne really began to warrant his inclusion after that, with some mazy runs on the right side, but it was Forrester on the same flank that should have levelled the tie on aggregate after 22 minutes.

Having danced through two tackles near the endline and forcing Andrejs Pavlovs to save low to his left, Forrester’s shot from the rebound was cleared from under the crossbar by Renars Rode.

A 15-minute period of sustained Pat’s pressure followed, with Killian Brennan and Fagan both going close, but Skonto stayed firm, and they stunned the home crowd into silence with seven minutes of the opening half remaining when Sorokins headed in at the back post.

The Inchicore faithful grew more and more irate with the referee before the end of the half for what they believed to be poor decisions, and their anger only increased in the second half as both Forrester and Desmond joined Kenny Browne in the book.

However, it was a lack of finesse in front of the target that was the real problem for St Pat’s as they created enough to score in a game that just seemed to get away from them.

And when the man in the middle awarded the visitors a penalty for an apparent handball by Desmond with just under an hour played, Karasausks made it 4-1 on aggregate to all but end the contest.

Byrne, Bermingham and Jamie McGrath all had efforts on the Latvian side’s goal in the final quarter of an hour, with the latter hitting the post, but it remained 2-0 on the night and 4-1 on aggregate.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Clarke, O’Brien, Bermingham, Desmond, Browne, Bolger, K Brennan, Byrne, Forrester, Greene (Langley, 65), Fagan (McGrath, 65).

Skonto FC: Pavlovs, Timofejevs, Rode, Smirnovs, Murillo (Isajevs, 77), Kozlovs, Jermolajevs, Gutkovskis (Visnakovs, 62), Kovalovs, Karasausks (Ivanovs, 83), Sorokins.

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Simon Walsh

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