Cork City took a giant leap towards the next round of the Europa League with an impressive 2-0 away victory over Levadia Tallinn at the Rannastaadion in Parnu.
The Leesiders controlled matters from the off and were full value for their win, courtesy of strikes in each half by Garry Buckley and Steven Beattie.
City took the lead just before half-time with a well-worked free kick routine. Skipper Greg Bolger rolled the ball into the path of Garry Buckley. Buckley’s right footer screamed low to Sergei Letmets’ right and into the bottom corner.
It was a double boost for City as Levadia were reduced to ten men in the same incident. Luc Landry Tabi Manga was shown asecond yellow card for a foul on Seáni Maguire just outside the box. The Cameroonian had earlier been booked for a foul on the same player.
Levadia responded well to their late first half reverse without often troubling the makeshift City rearguard. Conor McCormack moved into the back four to cover Alan Bennett’s absence.
The Estonians could have equalised just after half time when captain Rimo Hunt made a run in behind the City defence but his shot was off target.
Levadia might have made it 1-1 in the 76th minute as Josip Krznaric found some space in the box but his shot was deflected on to the crossbar by a diving Mark McNulty. The home side and bench claimed that the ball crossed the line but it hadn’t as City’s goal remained intact.
After some astute replacements by City boss John Caulfield, the clincher and a priceless second away goal arrived on 81 minutes, expertly finished by Steven Beattie.
All three second-half City substitutes were involved in the move. Shane Griffin made a purposeful run and played in Achille Campion.
The Frenchman laid an inch perfect into Beattie’s path and the Dubliner’s shot flew high into the roof of the net.
From there, while the Leesiders had a couple of penalty appeals and Maguire nearly set-up Ryan Delaney for a third, City were happy to see the game out.
John Caulfield’s men won’t be counting any chickens but surely the second round and Larnaca or Gibraltar beckon following the return leg at Turner’s Cross on July 6th.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Jimmy Keohane, Conor McCormack, Ryan Delaney, Kevin O’Connor; Greg Bolger (c), Gearóid Morrissey, Garry Buckley (Achille Campion, 74); Karl Sheppard (Steven Beattie, 68), Seánie Maguire, Stephen Dooley (Shane Griffin, 80).
Subs not used: Alan Smith (GK), Conor McCarthy, Connor Ellis, Seán O’Mahony.
Tallinn: Sergei Lepmets; Luc Manga, Marcellin Gando, Igor Dudarev, Maksim Podholjusin; Pavel Marin (Nikita Andreev, 71), Josip Krznaric, Evgeni Kodzar (Christofer Kuusma, 86), Joao Moreli, Mark Oliver Roosnupp (Artjom Artjunin, 46), Rimo Hunt (c).
Subs not used: Kaspar Mutso. Priit Pikker, Andreas Ruudsepp, Ingemaar Teever.
Booked: Luc Manga (35, 42), Maksim Podholjuzin.
Sent off: Luc Manga (42).
Referee: Jorgen Burchardt (Denmark)
Attendance: 1,500 (estimated).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Gearóid Morrissey (Cork City).