Shamrock Rovers have come from behind to beat SK Brann 2-1 at Tallaght Stadium.
The Hoops will now progress to the next round of Europa League
qualifiers after eliminating their Norwegian opponents 4-3 on
Rovers picked up an impressive 2-2 draw in Norway last week, and were
the better team tonight in Tallaght, but were given a huge scare in
the second half nonetheless.
Brann took the lead against the run of play in the 56th minute, with
Karamoko Bamba taking the ball around Alan Mannus before finishing
into an empty net after being played through behind the Rovers
Having largely been comfortable and enjoying plenty of possession and
chances, Stephen Bradley’s hosts suddenly found themselves 33 minutes
away from elimination.
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Midfielder Jack Byrne drew Rovers level 14 minutes from time with an
excellent pirouette and finish following a beautifully threaded
through ball from skipper Ronan Finn.
Byrne controlled the ball inside the area as he turned before
dispatching a calm finish past the onrushing ‘keeper to wrest control
of the tie back in the hosts’ favour.
GET IN THERE!
Lift off at @tallaghtstadium
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Brann – facing elimination on away goals – committed players forward
as they searched for a winner, and Rovers struck their second goal
with a ruthless counter attack.
Substitute Dan Carr did brilliantly to hold the ball up on the edge of
the Brann box before laying the ball off to Byrne just outside the
Byrne squeezed a delightful through ball to Gary O’Neill on the right
side of the area, and the sub – who had replaced Finn moments earlier
– found the net via a deflection off a defender.
Rovers fans behind the Brann goals invaded the pitch after O’Neill’s
goal, a move which will likely result in a fine from UEFA.
The Hoops survived five minutes of stoppage time to seal their place
in the next round of Europa League qualifiers, with tonight’s victory
reportedly worth an estimated €500,000 to the Dublin club.
Elsewhere, there was late heartbreak for Cork City in the Czech Republic.
The Leesiders – who lost 2-0 at Turner’s Cross to Progrès Niederkorn
in the first leg – made the perfect start in Luxembourg, with Garry
Buckley smashing home a goal in the third minute.
John Cotter’s visitors had several opportunities to add to their lead
before the interval, and scored a crucial second goal early in the
Conor McCarthy headed home via the upright from Daire O’Connor’s cross
to draw Cork level on aggregate (and away goals).
However, Progrès scored the tie’s decisive goal in the 68th minute.
Substitute Issa Bah fired the home side into the lead on aggregate
with virtually his first involvement.
Cork, who were excellent on the night, pushed for a late third goal,
but ultimately fell short against the Luxembourg champions.
Progrès will now face Steven Gerrard’s Rangers in the next round.
St. Patrick’s Athletic suffered a 2-1 (4-1 aggregate) defeat to IFK
Norrkoping in Sweden.
The Inchicore club faced an uphill battle after losing 2-0 at Richmond
Park last week, and were a class below the Swedes over both legs.
Jordan Larsson gave Norrkoping the lead against Harry Kenny’s
visitors, who drew level through a superb Conor Clifford strike.
However, Karl Holmberg restored the hosts’ lead, and Norkoping held on
to secure a comfortable aggregate victory.