Europa League Report: Dundalk 1 - 3 Slovan Bratislava (Bratislava win 4-1 on agg)

Tue, Aug 13 2019

Niall Newberry reports from Tallaght Stadium

Dundalk and the League of Ireland’s involvement in European competition this season came to a crashing end on Tuesday night after Slovan Bratislava beat the Lilywhites 3-1 at Tallaght Stadium.

Slovan now progress to the Europa League’s play-off round where they will face PAOK of Greece, while Dundalk switch their focus back to domestic matters with the visit of Finn Harps on Friday.

Vinny Perth made no changes from the first-leg, while Aleksandar Cavric came in for Slovan Bratislava in place of Moha Rharsalla, who didn’t travel to Ireland because of an upset stomach.

Needing at least a goal, Dundalk had to come straight out of the blocks and they did inside the first minute when Dane Massey’s cross was only headed into the path of Jamie McGrath, whose shot forced Slovan goalkeeper Dominik Greif into a good save and Tallaght had already found its voice.

Slovan manager Jan Kozak was adamant in the build-up that his side weren’t going to just sit back and defend their 1-0 advantage from the first-leg, but rather try and kill this tie off once and for all.

They should have done so after Andy Boyle was caught out by David Holman, the only scorer in the first-leg, but the Dundalk defender made up for his error, clearing the Hungarian’s shot off the line.

A bit like last week’s game, this was end-to-end and Patrick Hoban pulled the ball back for Michael Duffy, but Greif just about got there before the Derry man in what was a frantic opening period.

Slovan took the lead on 12 minutes when Andraz Sporar, in acres of space, sent in a cross from the right that was met by the head of the unmarked Rafael Ratao, who silenced the Dundalk support.

At this stage, you could hear a pin drop but Dundalk looked for an immediate response and Duffy saw his shot deflected wide before Daniel Cleary headed over the top from the resulting corner.

The outstanding Holman was a constant threat though and his shot had Gary Rogers at full stretch after Sporar had pulled the ball back for the Hungarian international following Greif’s long goal-kick.

Holman and Sporar combined again as the latter, who cost the club €2m, forced a save from Rogers.

Dundalk weren’t giving up and Chris Shields saw a deflected shot saved by Greif before Sean Murray’s shot had the confident-looking Slovan custodian at full stretch, but whizzed just wide.

The visitors got their second on 33 minutes after Boyle made a hash of what should have been a simple header back to Rogers and Aleksandar Cavric took advantage to make it 2-0 on the night.

Before the break, Mountney saw his low and powerful free-kick saved by Greif while at the other end, Vasil Bozhikov’s cross was almost converted by the inrushing Holman, who diverted over.

Now needing four goals to progress, Dundalk introduced both Sean Hoare and Patrick McEleney with the hopes of salvaging something from this tie but in truth, the Lilywhites were in need of a miracle.

They almost pulled one back when Shields’ pinpoint cross was met by the head of Hoban only for Greif to save once more before Hoare’s curling shot from the resulting corner was also well saved.

Dundalk pulled at least one goal back in the 71st minute when Massey did well to get away from Mitch Apau before finding Duffy, who fired low into the bottom corner with Greif finally beaten.

The Lilywhites were awarded a penalty three minutes later for a handball from Duffy’s shot and up stepped captain Hoban, but the magnificent Greif saved the Galway native’s spot-kick with his feet.

That just about summed up Dundalk’s night and they shipped a third goal in stoppage-time with substitute Erik Daniel getting himself on the scoresheet in what was a disappointing night.


Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Andy Boyle, Daniel Cleary (Sean Hoare 46), Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Sean Murray (Patrick McEleney 46); John Mountney, Jamie McGrath (Georgie Kelly 79), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.

Subs not used: Aaron McCarey, Brian Gartland, Cameron Dummigan, Daniel Kelly.

Booked: Patrick McEleney (66), Chris Shields (71).

Slovan Bratislava: Dominik Greif; Jurij Medvedev (Mitch Apau 65), Myenty Abena, Vasil Bozhikov, Vernon De Marco; Marin Ljubicic, Joeri de Kamps; Aleksandar Cavric (Erik Daniel 62), David Holman, Rafael Ratao (Artem Sukhotskyi 86); Andraz Sporar.

Subs not used: Michal Sulla, Ibrahim Rabiu, David Strelec, Nono Villar.

Booked: David Holman (76).

Referee: Robert Schorgenhofer (Austria).

Attendance: 5,000 (estimate). Man of the Match: David Holman (Slovan Bratislava).