Europa League Report: Shamrock Rovers 1 - 0 Ferencvarosi TC

Andy Lyons celebrating his winning goal

Andy Lyons celebrating his winning goal Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)

View Photo Gallery from Eddie Lennon

A late Andy Lyons winner ensured Shamrock Rovers won the battle but lost the war as they beat Ferencvaros 1-0 in Tallaght Stadium but bowed out of the UEFA Europa League 4-1 on aggregate.

It’s the UEFA Europa Conference League for Shamrock Rovers but they will be roaring into the group stages with some momentum after substitute Lyons powered home a header from Jack Byrne’s corner to set up a carnival atmosphere in Tallaght.

Rovers’ exit will ultimately come as a disappointment but that was softened by their win and the news that they will be third seeds for the Conference League and they can look forward to Friday’s draw with a degree of optimism while also knowing they secured some more coefficient points.

The Hoops are now a year unbeaten in all competitions at home and can take a record of four home wins from four into the Conference League Group Stages.

Stephen Bradley made five changes to his side with Sunday’s last-16 FAI Cup tie away to Drogheda in mind especially after crashing out to Bohs a few days after a European game last year and perhaps realising the task tonight was beyond them.

Ronan Finn was drafted back in to make his 54th European appearance – levelling with Gary Rogers – in a career that has spanned over a decade and will take in three group stage campaigns after forays in the Europa League with Shamrock Rovers (2011) and Dundalk (2016).

Teenagers Aidamo Emakhu and Justin Ferizaj were handed starts and the latter took to the stage like a duck to water despite being only 17, showing off some neat touches early on and perhaps why some big clubs in Europe have been circling.

It was indeed the teen who went closest for the hosts midway through the opening half, cutting in onto his right foot before unleashing a curling effort that seemed to take an age to come back towards goal but eventually just evading the post with former Liverpool goalkeeper Adam Bogdan beaten.

There was a sense of inevitability about this game, with both sides acknowledging the tie had been decided last week in Budapest and making a host of changes with 20 minutes to go with the game still goalless.

The game lacked the all or nothing spice that it might have had if Rovers didn’t have European football already guaranteed for the coming months.

Some persistent fouling from Ferencvaros gave the first half a staggered nature but some of the challenges definitely crossed the threshold with Gary O’Neill on the end of two crunching tackles.

Emakhu decided he would get his own back and put in a high challenge on Wingo which earned him a caution from French referee Francois Letexier and some comical remonstrations from Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov who did the stereotype of an angry Russian man no favours.

The Hoops were comfortable and asserted themselves well without looking like they were going to threaten an unlikely comeback but they will feel like they should have gone into the interval a goal to the good.

It was the teenagers leading the fight to Ferencvaros and Emakhu almost teed up Richie Towell with a low ball across the box that was most likely a shot. However, Towell was caught on his heels and remained stagnant as the ball rolled across the face of goal. A sure tap in gone begging.

Ferencvaros offered precious little but Alan Mannus made sure he stayed alert to deny Ryan Mmae on the stroke of half time.

Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers fans won’t remember Ferencvaros stopper Bogdan fondly after some calamitous performances for both clubs but he showed glimpses that perhaps he is competent.

Emakhu was hacked down on the edge of the box after some good pressing from Ronan Finn and Bogdan did really well to parry Sean Kavanagh’s low fizzing free kick. The days of conceding from corners vs Exeter City on cold January nights a distant memory for the big redhead.

Kavanagh was in the heart of the action moments later as he floated a ball to the back post for Towell to volley over.

After a turgid first half the game burst into life and Mannus was out quickly to block Mmae’s shot with his chest to keep the game scoreless.

Adama Traore might have opened the scoring with fifteen to play but his acrobatic effort from close range was akin to his namesake at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Attacking the South Stand late on, the soon to be three-in-a-row Premier Division champions decided to round off their Europa League campaign with a flourish.

Byrne was introduced and his quality showed as he delivered a beautiful pass to Lyons who was brilliantly stopped by Bogdan before Farrugia had a shot deflected narrowly wide.

But Bradley’s side wouldn’t be denied, and they got the goal their second half deserved as Lyons headed home Byrne’s corner.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Gannon, Lee Grace, Sean Hoare; Justin Ferizaj (Gideon Tetteh 70), Ronan Finn (Andy Lyons 64), Sean Kavanagh (Dylan Watts 70), Gary O'Neill, Richie Towell (Jack Byrne 70); Aidomo Emakhu (Aaron Greene 64), Neil Farrugia.
Subs not used: Toms Leitis, Leon Pohls, Daniel Cleary, Rory Gaffney.
Booked: Aidomo Emakhu (33), Richie Towell (44).
Sent off: None.

Ferencvarosi TC: Adam Bogdán; Eldar Civic, Mats Knoester, Adnan Kovacevic, Henry Wingo; Carlos Auzqui, Anderson Esiti (Bálint Vécsei 56), Aissa Laidouni, Tokmac Nguen (Xavier Mercier 70), Adama Malouda Traoré; Ryan Mmaee (Franck Boli 70).
Subs not used: Muhamed Besic, Endre Botka, Marquinhos.
Booked: Carlos Auzqui (21) .
Sent off: None.

Referee: . Francois Letexier
Attendance: 7,163 Player of the Match: Justin Ferizaj