Leon Bailey 30' -
Cork City ensured that they head into the second leg of their Europa League Third Qualifying Round against KRC Genk at Turners Cross with the tie very much alive.
They may have lost to a goal from Genk’s wonderkid Leon Bailey on the night, but City can take plenty of encouragement from a brilliant overall display and will feel they will have a great chance on Leeside next week in what should be a memorable night for the club.
This display showed how much City have come on under Caulfield’s reign, with the doubts about City’s style of play and whether they play too much long ball well and truly put to bed.
The performance was much improved from the City performance against KR last season and there is most of cause for optimism for Rebel Army supporters ahead of the second leg, with Cork looking comfortable in possession on the night.
Genk, who have reached the last 32 of the Europa League the last two times they were in the competition in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014, showcased on occasions some of the raw talent they have on offer too.
Among them included Jamaican Bailey, who showed why clubs such as Dortmund and Chelsea and others across Europe have been monitoring him, due to his sheer pace on the wing, which caused City problems.
He finished clinically to give Genk the lead , following Pozuelo’s interception from Maguire’s ball to McSweeney. The former Swansea City man set Bailey away down the left and he finished to the right corner.
Genk had a chance to double their lead through Bailey before half time, but McNulty dealt with it well.
Though Genk looked a decent side a times during the game, they showed on the night that they were far from world beaters, and City had a number of chances to level the tie in the second half.
Former West Ham man Maguire caused the home side’s defence problems all night long with his sheer pace and after a brilliant passing move in the lead up, he shot just over the bar following a cross in from Beattie. Shortly after Maguire went close again after a good ball over the top, but he shot just right and wide.
Gearóid Morrissey had an excellent chance as the game was in the final quarter, but he shot just wide of the left post following a great controlling run from Stephen Dooley, who looked a danger on the wing.
Pozuelo had a chance from a free kick late on as well for the hosts, who appeared to tire a little bit as the game went on. Their wing players caused Cork problems on the night and that is something which will need close monitoring from Caulfield’s side in the second leg.
Bailey and Samatta had long range efforts saved late on, but the City defence remained resolute and they likes of Bennett and Browne performed well on the night.
The fact that City’s goal seemed preventable, and the fact that they could have scored an away goal, showed how well Cork did on the night in both the defensive and attacking perspective.
Genk will play their opening league fixture KV Oostende at the weekend, but for Cork it is all eyes firmly focused on next Thursday’s second leg. Based on this performance, City are in with every chance of progressing still and with what should be a packed Turners Cross behind them, it could potentially be one of the all time great footballing occasions on Leeside.
Genk: Marco Bizot; Sandy Walsh, Sebastien Dewaest, Dries Wouters, Jere Uronen; Alejandro Pozuelo (Brian Heynen 82), Wilfried Ndidi, Thomas Buffel, Mbwana Samatta, Leon Bailey; Nikos Karelis (Neeskens Kebano 73).
Subs Not Used: László Koteles(gk), Leandro Trossard, Paolo Sabak, Christophe Janssens, Yoni Buyens.
Booked: Alejandro Pozuelo (33), Wilfried Ndidi (82).
Cork City: Mark Mc Nulty; Michael McSweeney, Alan Bennett, Kenny Browne, Kevin O’Connor; Gearóid Morrissey, Greg Bolger; Steven Beattie (Danny Morrissey 83), Gary Buckley, Stephen Dooley; Sean Maguire (Mark O’Sullivan 86)
Subs Not Used: Matthew Connor(gk), Colin Healy, Gavan Holohan, Karl Sheppard, Ian Turner.
Booked: Alan Bennett (66), Sean Maguire (69).
Referee: Clayton Pisani (Malta)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Sean Maguire (Cork City).