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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 17 September, 2019
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'There is massive pressure on Malmo': Cooke turns up the heat on Swedes

St Patrick’s Athletic and Drogheda United are both eyeing a place in the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

Paul O'Connor of Drogheda with Markus Halsti of Malmo.
Paul O'Connor of Drogheda with Markus Halsti of Malmo.
Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

DROGHEDA UNITED ARE hoping that Malmo will crack when the sides meet again in Sweden this evening (kick-off 6pm).

The Airtricity League side battled to a valuable 0-0 draw in the home leg of their Europa League first round qualifier last Thursday.

It might have been even better for Mick Cooke’s men who created the better chances but had to play out the closing stages with 10 men following Ryan Brennan’s sending off.

Malmo are riding high in the Allsvenskan this season and moved level on points at the top of the table with a 3-1 win at home to Gefle on Sunday.

With Pat Fenlon’s Hibernian awaiting the winners in the next round, Cooke says that last week’s stalemate in Tallaght has left all of the pressure on the Swedes.

It’s only half-time and it’s still 0-0 in the tie and I just feel the chances that overall we had the better chances than Malmo in the first leg.

In saying that, they are a very good side but we are well organised and we are looking forward to the game tomorrow night.

Even if we are losing by a goal [tonight], as long as it stays just a single goal and we equalise we will go through on the away goals rule, so even to concede a goal, I’ll be quite happy to just get an equaliser and go through on the away goals rule. So I think there is massive pressure on Malmo.

Brennan’s suspension means he is the only absentee for tonight’s match with a fully-fit squad at Cooke’s disposal otherwise.

St Pat’s defender Ian Bermingham holds off Andro Svrljuga during last week’s 2-2 draw (©INPHO/Justas Petrulis)

Meanwhile Premier Division leaders St Patrick’s Athletic are odds-on favourites to finish the job against Zalgiris in Richmond Park (kick-off 7.45pm).

Ger O’Brien’s sensational late equaliser gave Pat’s a 2-2 draw in Lithuania last week and bookmakers now make the Saints a 1/3 shot to progress to the second round where they will meet either FK Teteks (Macedonia) or FC Pyunik (Armenia).

Killian Brennan’s suspension only applies to domestic games which means he is eligible tonight while midfielder Conan Byrne, who turned 27 yesterday, will be hoping to mark his birthday with a goal.

YouTube credit: Rokas Burokas

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Niall Kelly

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