Dundalk Progress On Penalties Over Riga
Dundalk FC have qualified for second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League after a penalty shootout victory over Riga FC at Skonto Stadium.
The sides couldn’t be separated after 210 minutes and it went all the way to sudden death with the Lilywhites prevailing in dramatic scenes.
The first 20 minutes of the contest past without much remark.
Roger got in behind the Lilywhites backline but Gary Rogers was alert to clear and at the other end, Sean Gannon’s cross was fumbled by Ozols the goalkeeper but he gathered gratefully at the second attempt.
Dundalk were beginning to see more of the ball as the half wore on and John Mountney was the first to have an effort on goal but it came from distance and it was blocked down.
Patrick McEleney found himself alone on the edge of the area after a corner was cleared but he sliced his effort and it went wide.
McEleney would then force Ozols into action when Mountney’s corner fell to him again on the edge of the area and he caught it beautifully but the goalkeeper parried to safety.
The Derry man was finding all the space and he shot wide from distance when he found himself in space and also sent a free-kick into the arms of the goalkeeper from similar range.
McEleney then provided Mountney with a wonderful cross however the Mayo native was offside.
Riga almost broke the deadlock just before half-time interval though when Robbie Benson was dispossessed by Roman Debelko. He showed some quick feet to open up a shooting opportunity just outside the area however he fired wide.
The Lilywhites were on the attack from the re-start when Mountney was fouled 30 yards from goal.
He took the free-kick himself and found the head of Dane Massey but it went harmlessly wide.
Riga made two changes early in the second half to offer fresh impetus going forward with attacking players Felipe Brisola and Deniss Rakels introduced but there was no clear cut chances in the immediate aftermath.
Dundalk would have the ball in the net when Chris Shields lobbed the ball in from the right and it was powered to the net by Hoban however he was deemed to be offside as he did it.
Brisola would cause some havoc with 20 minutes remaining as his cross caused some panic however it was cleared.
Sean Hoare rose highest from Benson’s corner shortly after but he could only get a glancing touch and the chance went.
Roman Debelko had a header go inches wide for the hosts while Sean Murray fired from distance but it was charged down.
A beautiful flick from McEleney as the game approached 90 minutes saw Hoban free 35 yards from goal but his effort was tame and straight down the goalkeepers throat.
The game was tense for the most part and it showed in the final third with both sides struggling to create openings in 90 minutes.
The referee brought it to a close and we headed to extra-time.
Brisola had the first shot on goal of extra-time but he couldn’t find the target 30 yards from goal.
The Lilywhites were saved by Rogers though as he came out quickly to block down Debelko after he spun away from the defence however the net minder stayed big to narrow the angle.
Daniel Kelly though forced a good save from Ozols when his trickery got him within striking range but the goalkeeper saved well.
McEleney had the first chance in the second period of extra-time but again it was from long range and it was straight at the goalkeeper.
Debelko found himself in behind for Riga but Hoare made a simply stunning last ditch block to deny him as he pulled the trigger.
Riga would be reduced to 10 men in the 110th minute when Herdi Prenga body checked Massey as he ran through on goal with the host number 39 receiving his second yellow card and marching orders.
Murray was teed up by Andy Boyle who was allowed to run from his centre-half position however the strike was inches wide of the post.
Dean Jarvis played a deep cross o the back post to the out stretched leg of Hoban however he couldn’t get enough on the ball to send it anywhere near the target.
That was the final effort of the night and the tie went to penalties.
The penalty shootout was a tense affair and went all the way to sudden death with the outstanding, simply scintillating Sean Hoare slotting home the winning kick to send us through to the second qualifying round and a tie with Qarabag!!
RIGA FC: Roberts Ozols; Tomislav Saric, Herdi Prenga, Antonijs Cernomordijs; Armands Petersons, Olegs Laizans (capt) (Stefan Panic 81), Ritvars Rugins, Roger (Felipe Brisola 50), Aleksejs Visnakovs ( Vladislavs Gabovs 105); Joel Bopesu (Deniss Rakels 52), Roman Debelko
Substitutes not used: Maksims Uvarenko (GK), Kamil Bilinski, Elvis Stugils.
Booked: Prenga (7, 110), Saric (33)
Sent off: Prenga (110)
DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Chris Shields (Chris Shields 98), Robbie Benson (Daniel Kelly 81); John Mountney (Sean Murray 64), Jamie McGrath, Patrick McEleney (Georgie Kelly 111); Patrick Hoban (capt)
Substitutes not used: Aaron McCarey (GK), Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary.
Booked: Shields (55), D. Kelly (89)
Sent off: None.
Referee: Dimitar Mečkarovski