Early brace secures CSKA win but Lilywhites show plenty of promise
Dundalk FC 0-2 CSKA Moscow | Pre-Season Friendly
Arnor Sigurdsson’s brace secured CSKA Moscow a 2-0 win at the Hotel Campoamor in Spain on Friday afternoon but Dundalk manager Vinny Perth will have been more than happy with his side’s display against the Russians.
With the SSE Airtricity League opener against Derry City just three weeks away, this was another excellent workout for the Lilywhites who recovered from the setback of conceding two early goals to ask plenty of questions of a CSKA side who sit fourth in their domestic league.
This was CSKA’s first outing since they beat Espanyol in the Europa League group stages in December. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t enough to stop them from finishing bottom of a group that also contained Ferencvaros and Ludogrets.
For Dundalk, Sean Murray and Patrick McEleney both returned to the squad after sitting out Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to CFR Cluj but Will Patching missed out completely with a shoulder injury which could keep him sidelined for the next fortnight.
The League of Ireland champions opened on the front foot and Jordan Flores saw a free-kick deflected just wide of Ilya Pomazun’s post after Chris Shields was upended just outside the CSKA box.
That good start counted for nothing, however, as CSKA pulled ahead. Central defender Hordur Magnusson picked out the clever run of David Karaev and he kept himself onside to put the ball on a platter for Sigurdsson to tap home.
The second goal arrived eight minutes later when Bijol Jaka’s pass found Sigurdsson on the inside right channel and the 20-year-old had time to casually pick his spot and slide the ball past the exposed Gary Rogers to make it 2-0.
The Icelandic international had a chance to complete his hat-trick on the half-hour when Sean Hoare was penalised for a foul on Karaev in the penalty area but Rogers threw himself to the right to make a fine stop and push the spot-kick away.
Dundalk did fashion a number of good openings in the first half with wing-backs Dane Massey and Sean Gannon unlucky not to put the finishing touch on a couple of well-worked moves. Their best opening came on the stroke of half-time when John Mountney led a rapid counter-attack to find McEleney on the left. His clipped ball found the unmarked Georgie Kelly on the penalty spot but the striker couldn’t get enough purchase on his header.
The second half was much more encouraging from a Dundalk point fo view and McEleney had a great opportunity to pull one back just four minutes after the restart. Mountney, again, was heavily involved, inviting Gannon to raid down the right, but McEleney saw his effort from the subsequent cutback deflected onto the crossbar by Pomazun.
Perth started to ring the changes with Scottish midfielder Cammy Smith one of five players introduced in the 57th minute and the Lilywhites continued to ask all of the questions with Michael Duffy seeing a corner clawed to safety by Pomazun.
Duffy also fired over the top from 30 yards after being set up by Sean Murray as CSKA held firm but Dundalk will return from Spain on Sunday happy with how their preparation for the season ahead has gone over the past week.
DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers; Daniel Cleary (Andy Boyle 69), Brian Gartland (Sean Murray 57), Sean Hoare; Sean Gannon (Taner Dogan 83), John Mountney (Daniel Kelly 74), Chris Shields (Greg Sloggett 57), Jordan Flores (Michael Duffy 57); Dane Massey; Patrick McEleney (Cammy Smith 57); Georgie Kelly (Patrick Hoban 57).
CSKA MOSCOW: Ilya Pomazun, Maksim Eleev, Kouame Cedric Gogoua, Hordur Magnusson, Konstantin Kuchaev, Bijol Jaka, Georgy Schennikov, Alan Dzagoev (Lassana Ndiaye 62), Konstantin Maradishvili, Arnor Sigurdsson, David Karaev. Subs not used: Vladislav Torop, Illiya Shkurin, Ivan Obliakov, Vadim Karpov.