EL QR2
Date: 7:45 p.m. July 26, 2018
Venue: Oriel Park
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Europa League Report: Dundalk 0-0 AEK Larnaca

Thu, Jul 26 2018

Another Euro clean sheet for Gary Rogers - the goalkeeper has the most appearances in European competitions of any current player Credit: Michael P Ryan

Niall Newberry reports from Oriel Dundalk

Dundalk and AEK Larnaca played out a scoreless draw in the first leg of their Europa League second qualifying round tie at Oriel Park on Thursday night in what was a cagey encounter.

A draw was perhaps a fair result considering neither goalkeeper was ever really tested, but Dundalk will be quietly confident heading into the return leg in Cyprus next week.

European fever had well and truly hit the border town, which has been emblazoned in colour, prior to the match following home and away wins over Estonian outfit Levadia Tallinn in the previous round. 

So much so, the ticket demands for this tie far outweighed what was a reduced capacity at Oriel due to UEFA restrictions. The match sold out within barely an hour of tickets going on general sale last Sunday.

Dundalk were forced into one change from last week’s second leg win as the injured Sean Gannon was replaced by Daniel Cleary, while Larnaca started with five of the six former La Liga players that travelled to Ireland.

Both sides started well in what was a frantic opening period as Larnaca – an obvious step in quality above Levadia – applied some early pressure amid slight Dundalk nerves in front of the large sell-out crowd.

Indeed, it was the Cypriot Cup winners that created the first chance of the match when a ball over the top sent Macedonia international Ivan Trickovski on his way, but he shot very narrowly wide.

Dundalk’s first big opportunity came when Michael Duffy robbed the ball from Igor Silva before unleashing a shot which flew just wide, drawing an almighty roar of approval from the Oriel faithful.

However, it was the visitors that would draw the next chance after a block from the impressive Sean Hoare rebounded into the path of Joan Tomas, but the ex-Villarreal and Celta Vigo player fired over.

The Lilywhites began to settle after that as Larnaca dropped back and Jamie McGrath released Dylan Connolly, who showed great acceleration but the danger was averted in the ensuing goalmouth scramble.

Larnaca should have taken the lead just after the restart when Hector Hevel sent a free-kick into the area but Apostolos Giannou was somehow denied by Gary Rogers after Trickovski had headed across goal.

Patrick Hoban had somewhat limited service throughout the night but his long-range fizzing effort stung the hands of Larnaca keeper Tono Ramirez after some industrious play from Duffy on the left.

An end to end game in the truest sense, the Cypriots went close to scoring a valuable away goal when Hevel’s cross found its way to the unmarked Acoran Reyes, who poked his effort just wide.

Patrick McEleney, who has recently returned to Dundalk following an ill-fated spell in English football with Oldham Athetic, came off the bench to make his second debut for the club, to a rapture of applause. 

Just three minutes later, his incisive pass found Robbie Benson but the Dundalk midfielder – who in the past has scored memorable European goals against the likes of BATE Borisov, Legia Warsaw and Zenit St Petersburg – skied his effort wide of the post.

Duffy was then beginning to cause Larnaca some considerable problems and he had two shots in quick succession – his first was never troubling Ramirez though before the Dundalk winger did excellently to get away from Jorge Larena but then shot straight at the Larnaca ‘keeper.

Dundalk continued to press for what would have been a first leg winner and Hoban fired over late on as the game finished scoreless, with the tie finely poised ahead of next week’s second leg in Cyprus.

Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Hoare, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey (Dean Jarvis 80); Dylan Connolly (Ronan Murray 84), Chris Shields, Robbie Benson, Michael Duffy; Jamie McGrath (Patrick McEleney 67), Patrick Hoban.

Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, John Mountney, Karolis Chvedukas, Georgie Kelly.

Booked: Dane Massey (4), Daniel Cleary (47), Patrick Hoban (73), Michael Duffy (84).

AEK Larnaca: Tono Ramirez; Mikel Gonzalez, Joan Truyols, Igor Silva; Thomas Ioannou, Hector Hevel, Joan Tomas (Tete 62), Jorge Larena (Nacho Cases 83), Acoran Reyes; Apostolos Giannou (Onisiforos Roushias 90), Ivan Trickovski.

Subs not used: Andreas Christodoulou, Rafael Anastasiou, Rafael Mamas, Konstantinos Konstantinou.               

Booked: Igor Silva (36), Hector Hevel (58).

Referee: Harald Lechner (Austria)

Attendance: 3,000 (estimate)

Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Chris Shields (Dundalk) 



Dundalk
Gary Rogers
Goalkeeper
Dane Massey
4Booked: 4'
81'
81Subbed Off: 81'
Defender
Sean Hoare
Defender
Brian Gartland
Defender
Daniel Cleary
47Booked: 47'
Defender
Chris Shields
Midfielder
Michael Duffy
84Booked: 84'
Midfielder
Dylan Connolly
84'
84Subbed Off: 84'
Midfielder
Robbie Benson
Midfielder
Jamie McGrath
67'
67Subbed Off: 67'
Forward
Patrick Hoban
73Booked: 73'
Forward

Substitutes
Gabriel Sava
Goalkeeper
Ronan Murray
84'
84Subbed On: 84'
Forward
John Mountney
Midfield
Patrick McEleney
67'
67Subbed On: 67'
Midfield
Georgie Kelly
Forward
Dean Jarvis
81'
81Subbed On: 81'
Defender
Karolis Chvedukas
Midfield
AEK Larnaca
Tono Ramirez
Goalkeeper
Igor Silva
Defender
36Booked: 36'
Larena Jorge
Defender
82Subbed On: 82'
Mikel Gonzalez
Defender
Joan Truyols
Defender
Joan Tomas
Midfielder
Acoran Reyes
Midfielder
Thomas Ioannou
Midfielder 90'
90Subbed Off: 90'
Hector Hevel
Midfielder
58Booked: 58'
Ivan Trickovski
Forward
Apostolos Giannou
Forward

Substitutes
Alberto (Tete) Sansimena Chamorro
Unknown
Onisiforos Roushias
Unknown
90Subbed On: 90'
90'
Rafail Mamas
Forward
Konstantinos Konstantinou
Unknown
Andreas Christodoulou
Goalkeeper
Nacho Cases
Midfield 82'
82Subbed Off: 82'
Rafael Anastasiou
Defender


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