Dundalk FC 0-0 AEK Larnaca
Dundalk and AEK Larnaca produced high quality entertainment at Oriel Park on Thursday night, but this Europa League 2nd Round tie remains in the balance as the tie finished 0-0.
It was a tense opening to the game with both sides struggling to find a rhythm but AEK Larnaca almost found an opening from their only corner of the game in the second minute when Truyols had a shot block from Hevel’s kick.
Macedonian international Trickovski engineered space for himself soon after however he missed the target from just outside the area.
That sprung Dundalk into life and Michael Duffy had a superb opportunity to take the lead. The winger won the ball from Igor Silva just inside the Larnaca half and he proceeded to raid down on goal. He created an opening and on the edge of the box he curled his effort towards goal however it clipped the outside of the post and went wide.
The match descended into somewhat of a scrap for the next period however Joan Tomas had a superb chance to grab the away goal however Sean Hoare put his body on the line brilliantly to block his shot from just inside the box.
Gary Rogers was called into action for the first time 10 minutes before the break when he blocked a shot from Acoran before Brian Gartland’s goalward header was straight at goalkeeper Tono.
Duffy found space for himself once more outside the area but he snatched at the chance and the ball went wide.
The first half ended scoreless but when play resumed it was the visitors once more who took the upper hand.
Giannou had a shot saved well by Rogers while at the other end Patrick Hoban had his first effort of the night but it was blocked into the path of the goalkeeper.
Acoran ran at pace towards goal with Chris Shields fouling him. It gave Jorge the chance to shoot from 30 yards however it hadn’t got enough power in it and it was easily gathered by Rogers.
It looked like AEK had created the perfect opportunity to take the lead when Acoran sneaked in at the back post however when unmarked he showed a lack of composure and his volley went harmlessly wide.
As the game approached the final 25 minutes, Dundalk began to assert their authority.
Benson fired over the bar after Duffy’s corner fell to him on the edge of the area while Duffy himself fired over the bar from a free-kick.
In what was one of the more bizarre moments in Oriel Park certainly in recent years, referee Harald Lechner dismissed Hoban shortly after. He was dismissed after the referee mistakenly thought he had booked him previously and brandished a second yellow and a red. However he realised his mistake shortly after and issued just a caution.
Duffy was a menacing presence all evening and he jinked past four Larnaca players into position to shoot but his low drive was straight at Tono.
Larnaca did have one more chance before the end of the contest and it was when Nacho Cases forced Rogers into a superb save down to his right from 20 yards.
Benson then latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the area but his shot was rash and was well wide.
The returning Patrick McEleney made his second debut on the night and he would have the last effort of the evening when he found space all to himself butt he couldn’t find the target.
So it finished goalless on the night with all to play for in the AEK Arena next Thursday.
DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Hoare, Brian Gartland (capt), Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey (Dean Jarvis 80); Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; Dylan Connolly (Ronan Murray 84), Jamie McGrath (Patrick McEleney 67), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.
Substitutes not used: Gabriel Sava (GK), John Mountney, Karolis Chvedukas, Georgie Kelly
Booked: Massey (4), Cleary (47), Hoban (73), Duffy (84)
Sent off: None.
AEK Larnaca: Tono Ramirez; Igor Silva, Joan Truyols, Mikel Gonzalez; Acoran, Larena Jorge (Nacho Cases 83), Joan Tomas (Tete 62), Hector Hevel, Thomas Ioannou; Ivan Trickovski (capt), Apostolos Giannou (Onisoforos Roushias 90).
Substitutes not used: Andreas Christodoulou (GK), Rafael Anastasiou, Rafail Mamas, Konstantinos Konstantinou.
Booked: Silva (36), Heval (59)
Referee: Harald Lechner (Austria)