Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Kostadin Andonov/INPHO St. Patrick's Athletic Serge Atakayi celebrates scoring.
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Late goal sees St Pat's earn famous win in Bulgaria
Serge Atakayi was the hero on the night for Tim Clancy’s side.

CSKA Sofia 0

St Patrick’s Athletic 1

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC earned a memorable 1-0 first-leg win away to CSKA Sofia in the Europa Conference League this evening.

Serge Atakayi was the hero on the night for the Irish side, as his goal late on was enough to give the Saints a big boost ahead of next week’s second leg in Tallaght.

Before the game, Tim Clancy had acknowledged his goal had been simply to keep the tie alive before the second leg in Dublin, but his side’s gutsy performance exceeded expectations while their opponents flattered to deceive at times.

As expected, CSKA dominated possession and controlled the play in the first half, with the visitors happy to sit back and play on the counter.

 The Saints occasionally found themselves in promising positions down the other end, but were wasteful, with Barry Cotter’s miscued cross and Billy King’s wayward shot off target among the opportunities they could have made more out of.

There was then a rare nervy moment down the other end, as Joseph Anang failed to hold onto Maurício Garcez’s shot, but the goalkeeper was fouled as Thibaut Vion attempted to convert the rebound.

Clancy had highlighted CSKA’s threat from set pieces, and the hosts had no fewer than eight corners over the 90 minutes.

Nevertheless, the Pat’s defence dealt relatively comfortably with everything that came their way, led by the impressive centre-back duo of skipper Joe Redmond and Tom Grivosti.

Despite five substitutions from boss Sasa Ilic, the second half followed a similar pattern — Pat’s defended doggedly, with the home team restricted to half chances and looking increasingly frustrated and short of ideas.

In the end, it was the Irish side who were looking the more likely winners.

Billy King shot over the bar on the counter-attack when he had options either side of him, before Eoin Doyle blasted over inside the area after being set up by Adam O’Reilly.

However, the Saints were not to be denied a famous win.

Asen Donchev failed to deal with a hopeful punt out from the back, as his attempted header back to the goalkeeper fell short.

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Substitute Serge Atakayi used all his pace and extra energy to touch the ball ahead of the onrushing Brazilian stopper Gustavo Busatto, leaving the attacker with an easy tap in.

There was a predictable late rally from CSKA, but Pat’s held on for a deserved win, leaving the small batch of away fans ecstatic and setting up an exciting second leg next Thursday.

CSKA Sofia: Gustavo Busatto; Asen Donchev, Hristiyan Petrov, Jurgen Matthiej, Bradley De Nooijer; Thibaut Vion (Jonathan Lindseth 60), Amos Youga (Geferson 76), Stanislav Shopov; Mauricio Garcez (Brayan Moreno Alvarez 83), Lazar Tufedgdzic (Georgi Yomov 46), Duckens Nazon (Daouda Bamba 60).

St Patrick’s Athletic: Joseph Anang; Harry Brockbank (Sam Curtis 75), Joe Redmond, Tom Grivosti; Barry Cotter, Jamie Lennon, Adam O’Reilly, Chris Forrester, Anto Breslin; Billy King (Serge Atakayi 81), Eoin Doyle (Rónán Coughlan 90+4).

Tickets for the second leg in Tallaght next Thursday (kick-off: 7.45pm) are on sale now at and available online only.


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