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Dublin: 2°C Friday 16 April 2021

'I know the score doesn't reflect it but I thought we flew the flag well'

Steven Beattie assesses Cork City’s Champions League elimination at the hands of Legia Warsaw.

– Paul Dollery reports from Warsaw 

CORK CITY WERE comprehensively beaten over the course of the two legs against Legia Warsaw, but Steven Beattie was focusing on the positives from the tie following City’s elimination from the Champions League qualifying phase last night.

Having won the first leg 1-0 at Turner’s Cross seven days earlier thanks to a superb strike from Michal Kucharczyk, Legia advanced to the second qualifying round as goals from Jose Kante, Miroslav Radovic and Carlitos secured a 4-0 victory on aggregate.

Cork's players applaud their fans Cork City players applauding their supporters after last night's defeat to Legia Warsaw. Source: Tomasz Jastrzebowski/INPHO

However, until Radovic’s 73rd-minute penalty, City were still in contention. John Caulfield’s side had threatened on several occasions at the Polish Army Stadium but the momentum they appeared to be building was halted when Conor McCormack fouled Radovic in the box after Garry Buckley gave the ball away in midfield.

Kante had opened the scoring in the 27th minute, volleying the ball into an empty net when City goalkeeper Peter Cherrie was caught out of position, having rushed out from his goalmouth in an attempt to intercept Mateusz Wieteska’s cross for Cafu. Carlitos put some gloss on the scoreline in the 89th minute.

“I thought we were well in it before the first goal,” said Beattie, who was one of the Irish champions’ top performers last night after being restored to the side at right-back due to an injury to Conor McCarthy.

“We created some amount of chances over the two legs. People probably didn’t think we’d be able to create as much. We just didn’t take our chances and at this level you get punished. We got punished severely.

“Obviously a wonder goal in the first leg set us back so we knew we had to come here and score. We did enough to score, but if you make those mistakes you’re going to get punished at this level. Unfortunately that was our undoing.

“We knew Legia could score but we still needed a goal or two. A goal would have got the fans on their back. Unfortunately we didn’t get it. We didn’t take our chances. That’s football.”

In spite of the outcome, Beattie believes City can take encouragement from how they performed over 180 minutes against the Polish champions, whose ultimate aim is to return to the group stages of the Champions League after missing out last season.

He said: “No one gave us a realistic chance but I personally didn’t think there was a massive jump in level. We’ve played against Genk and those sorts of teams so we knew what to expect off Legia.

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Steven Beattie with Krzysztof Maczynski Cork City's Steven Beattie being tracked by Krzysztof Maczynski of Legia Warsaw. Source: Tomasz Jastrzebowski/INPHO

“Personally I was happy with my performance. I didn’t think I was a million miles off and I’d say a few of the boys are proud of how they did as well. But at the end of the day, individual performances mean nothing.

“We’re knocked out of the Champions League. I thought we had a real shot to advance. Obviously we were massive underdogs but that’s the way things go.”

City will resume their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title defence on Monday at home to Derry City — unless the Candystripes can cause an upset tomorrow in Belarus by coming from two goals down to get the better of Dinamo Minsk.

European action will be back on the agenda for John Caulfield’s side next month, when they enter the third qualifying round of the Europa League. The draw will be made this Monday, with the ties scheduled for 9 and 16 August.

“We’ll get back at it in training on Thursday,” said Beattie. “Our focus is the league, it’s our bread and butter. When the Europa League rolls along we’ll deal with that, but straight away facing into Monday we can’t wait to make this right.”

He added: “We’ll be able to dust ourselves off. I think we did the City proud. I know the score doesn’t reflect it but I thought we flew the flag well. Obviously the result doesn’t look like that but we know ourselves that we did well.”

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Paul Dollery

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