Roberto Lopes’ late equaliser ensured Shamrock Rovers will take a priceless two away goals back to Tallaght Stadium for their second leg tie against SK Brann of Norway.
Taijo Teniste’s opener was cancelled out by an Amer Ordagic own goal before the Norwegian’s retook the lead via the penalty spot seconds later.
Talismanic defender Lopes then popped up at the death to secure a well-deserved draw for the Hoops who dominated for large spells in Bergen.
Rovers boss Stephen Bradley spoke during his pre-match press conference about his confidence of securing a result in Bergen, and it was his side who started brightly.
Captain Ronan Finn, who was making a record breaking 20th European appearance for the Hoops, linked up well with Aaron Greene early on twice but was adjudged offside on both occasions.
However, despite much of their early dominance, Rovers fell behind just before the quarter hour mark as Estonian international Teniste rifled home from 35 yards out.
Ethan Boyle’s header fell into the path of the full back who gave Alan Mannus no chance in the Hoops net as Jon Arne Nilsen’s side took a fortunate lead.
The opener allowed Brann to settle more into the game as the midfield trio of Kristoffer Lokberg, Fredrick Haugen and Amer Ordagic grew in influence ever so slightly.
Bradley’s charges soon steadied the ship and were rewarded for their positivity just after the half hour mark when Amer Ordagic headed into his own net from an expert Jack Byrne delivery.
However, just seconds later, the Hoops conceded a second from the penalty spot. Lopes, having just forced an equaliser, took down Veton Berisha on the edge of the area.
Albanian referee Juxhin Xjaga had no hesitation in pointing to the spot before target man Berisha fired past Mannus in the right-hand corner of the net to put the Norwegian’s one clear.
The drama was not to end there as moments later, Bismark Acosta and ‘keeper Hakon Opdal got their wires tangled and the ball fell to Greene.
Unfortunately for the ex-Bray Wanderers man and Shamrock Rovers, his shot was blocked as the Hoops went in a goal behind at the break.
The beginning of the second period began in a very stop-start fashion with neither side dominating the ball or proceedings for the opening quarter.
Rovers were perhaps fortunate to go unpunished with some early defensive lapses of concentration as both Boyle and the lively Byrne were caught in possession before Mannus swept up the danger.
However, the Dubliners increased the intensity with the turn of the hour mark with Finn going close after being fed in by Greene before Acosta cleared the danger with a last-ditch challenge.
Continuing in the ascendancy, Lopes cleared a Brann corner to set the energetic Greene free before he was caught in possession late on by Bismark who saved Brann from conceding another away goal.
While it was some quality defensive work that prevented the Hoops from grabbing a second, there was no doubt that it was lady luck that kept the Norwegian’s lead intact minutes later.
Trevor Clarke ghosted in on the left flank before finding the luckless Greene who shot straight at Opdal with the goal at his mercy from six yards out.
The Hoops pushed for a draw late on and were rewarded with seconds to go as Lopes nodded home a superb Byrne corner.
Bradley’s side will now take a priceless two goals back to Tallaght Stadium for the return leg next week as a tie against either FK Kauno Zalgiris or Apollon Limassol awaits the victors.
SK Brann: Hakon Opdal; Ruben Kristiansen, Christian Eggen Rismark, Bismar Acosta, Taijo Teniste; Kristoffer Lokberg (Petter Strand, 68), Fredrik Haugen, Amer Ordagic (Ruben Yttergard Jensen, 75); Gilbert Koomson (Daouda Bamba, 82), Veton Berisha, Gilli Rolantsson.
Subs not used: Jesper Lofgren, Azar Karadas, Eirik Holmen Johansen.
Booked: Veton Berisha (90+3).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Ethan Boyle, Trevor Clarke, Lee Grace, Roberto Lopes, Joey O'Brien; Greg Bolger, Jack Byrne, Ronan Finn (Aaron McEneff, 77), Sean Kavanagh (Dylan Watts, 66); Aaron Greene (Graham Cummins, 66).
Subs not used: Sean Callan, Daniel Carr, Gary O'Neill, Leon Pohls.
Booked: Ronan Finn (49), Ethan Boyle (90+3).
Referee: Juxhin Xjaga (Albania).
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Joey O’Brien (Shamrock Rovers).