Saint Patrick’s Athletic 0- 5 Legia Warsaw - Legia win 6-1 on aggregate
St. Patrick Athletic’s European adventures came to an ubrupt end at Tallaght Stadium on Wednesday night when Polish champions Legia Warsaw comprehensively won 5-0. Miroslav Radovic scored twice along with Michal Zyro, Jakub Kosecki and an own goal by Conan Byrne to earn the visitors the win in the second qualifying round tie 6-1 on aggregate.
That all means that it will be team from Warsaw that will now face Celtic in the next qualifying round. Celtic boss Ronny Deila, who was an interested spectator in Tallaght, knows his team will face stiff opposition in that tie.
In four of the past five seasons, Pat’s have played three rounds in Europe but for the second year in a row, they go out of Europe at the very first hurdle. The Saints began the game brigthly on a balmy evening in Tallaght Stadium. The fans of both teams created a cracking atmosphere during the game, particularly the visiting Legia supporters located beside a sizeable contingent of Irish based Polish football fans in the East Stand in Tallaght.
In the opening five minutes Dusan Kuciak was required to race out of the Legia goal to head clear a Keith Fahey ball over the top and moments later he also had to save a Killian Brennan shot after good work by Greg Bolger.
The Saints had marked the pitch in to give Legia less width to play with but that didn’t stop Henning Berg’s wingers Michal Kucharczyk and Michal Zyro, in a their 4-4-2 formation, pushing right on the Pat’s full backs. That prevented one of Pat’s potent offensive weapons with Kucharczyk in particular pressurising Pat’s captain Ger O’Brien, who was nursing a groin strain, into a number of unforced errors.
One of those misplaced passes from O’Brien on 10 minutes allowed Ondrej Duda get by Derek Foran, a late replacing for Ken Oman who got injured in the warm up, and his shot forced Brendan Clarke into his first save of the game.
Kucharczyk did have the ball in the net shortly after but the offside flag had gone up early. Mid-way through the half, Bolger picked the pocket of Legia’s captain Ivica Vrdoljak in midfield to pick out Brennan. He ran at the heart of Legia’s defense but his shot was a weak effort easily gathered by Kuciak.
The opening goal came on the back of some concerted pressure by the Polish champions. Zyro played a defensive splitting pass through to Miroslav Radovic and the striker made no mistake to score, just as he had done in injury time in the first leg.
After the half hour mark, Pat’s created their best chance of the half. Fahey won the ball in the centre circle and moving forward played a one-two with Brennan. Kuciak got a touch to the Irish international’s shot and it was just enough to take it by the Legia post as Pat’s fans thought it was going to drop into the net.
Liam Buckley made a switch at half-time bringing off Chris Forrester who had contributed little and replacing him with Mark Quigley. The Saints were walking the second leg tightrope knowing that if they conceded another away goal it would likely end the tie.
When Legia cleared a Conan Byrne corner just before the hour mark, the ball fell nicely to Fahey whose shot flashed just wide of the left hand post. While at the other end Kenny Browne needed to rescue the Saints when Radovic bore down on goal, clearing for a corner. Clarke then pulled off a great save when Zyro turned and volleyed goalwards.
The chances were beginning to come all too often to Legia from a Pat’s perspective. Tomasz Brzyski took on Clarke from all of 30 yards with a free kick but it went just over the angle of post and crossbar on 66 minutes. Three minutes later, Legia got their second of the night. Kucharczyk got by Hoare, who had replaced the injured O'Brien, and his pull back found Zyro with lots of space to side foot home despite Clarke’s best efforts.
With 10 minutes remaining the Pat's 'keeper pushed over Zyro’s fierce shot after Ondrej Duda created the chance. The pair quickly combined to get their third goal in Dublin with Radovic getting on the scoresheet once again.
Harshly for the Saints, Legia added two goals right at the end of the game. Substitute Marek Sagnowski wrapped up the win for the Warsaw team after being teed up in the six yard box by an excellent run by Brzyski. Then cruelly Conan Byrne headed by Clarke in injury time for an own goal to make it 5-0 on the night.
Pat’s can be proud of their performance in the first leg, but ultimately Legia’s class told against the League of Ireland champions over the two legs. The Polish side, who have been in the Europa League Group stages twice in the last three years, will travel to Scotland now with Champions League Group stages on their radar.
St Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O'Brien (c) (Sean Hoare 62), Derek Foran, Kenny Browne (Lee Lynch 74), Ian Birmingham; Conan Byrne, Greg Bolger, Keith Fahey, Killian Brennan, Chris Forrester (Mark Quigley h/t); Christy Fagan
Subs Not Used: Rene Gilmartin, Lorcan Fitzgerald, James Chambers, Daryl Kavanagh.
Booked: Greg Bolger (46).
Legia Warsaw: Dusan Kuciak; Lukasz Broz, Jakub Rzezniczak, Inaki Astiz, Tomasz Brzyski; Michal Zyro, Tomasz Jodlowiec, Ivica Vrdoliak (c), Michal Kucharczyk (Jakub Kosecki 84); Ondrej Duda (Marek Saganowski 84); Miroslav Radoviv (Arkadiusz Piech 87).
Subs Not Used: Dossa Junior, Konrad Jalocha, Igor Lewczuk, Helio Pinto.
Booked: Ondrej Duda (16).
Referee: Andreas Ekberg (Swedan).
Attendance: 5,500 (estimate).
Extratime Man of the Match: Miroslav Radovic (Legia Warsaw)