Champions League qualifier report: Breidablik 2 - 1 Shamrock Rovers (Breidablik win 3-1 on aggregate)

The teams lining up before this evening's clash

The teams lining up before this evening's clash Credit: Macdara Ferris (ETPhotos)

Macdara Ferris reports from Kopavogur in Iceland

Shamrock Rovers exited the Champions League in a meek manner at the very first hurdle. The Hoops were defeated 2-1 by Icelandic champions Breidablik in Kopavogur in the first qualifying round (3-1 on aggregate).

Stephen Bradley’s side now drop into the Europa Conference League second qualifying round. If they are to make it to the group stages of that competition for the second season in a row, they will now have to do it the hard way – progressing through three consecutive ties over the next six weeks. A hard task after Rovers’ poor showing across the two games against Breidablik.

The Hoops had started the game brightly pegging Breidablik back into the own half and getting the ball into their penalty box. Richie Towell, who started in place of the injured Jack Byrne, linked up well with Gaffney up front in the initial stages of the game which raised the hopes of the 100 or so travelling Rovers fans in the sold out Kopavogsvöllur Stadium.

The home team sat off more in the opening stages of the game but ten minutes in they begin to push on and get on top of the Hoops. There were half hearted shouts for a penalty when Breidablik skipper Hoskuldur Gunnlaugsson went down in the box with Dan Cleary in close attendance.

The Icelandic champions then created a trio of chances in a four minute period, scoring from the third one. First, the goal scorer from Tallaght, Damir Muminovic wasted a backpost header from a corner when he was under no pressure.

Alex Sigurdarson then should have scored racing onto a Viktor Einarsson through pass but he couldn’t beat Leon Pohls. The visitors can’t say they weren’t warned and in the 16th minute they found themselves a goal down.

The Icelandic champions doubled their advantage in the tie as Breidablik moved the ball quickly from front to back. Jason Svathorsson took the ball on from half way getting by Pico Lopes before slotting it home by Pohls.

The Hoops had the ball in the net in the 20th minute after Gaffney raced through clear on goal. However the offside flag went quickly up with VAR then confirming that the decision from the assistant referee was correct. The final clear cut chance of the half fell to Sigurdarson with his shot palmed away by Pohls.

Gaffney stung the fingers of Einarsson with a fiercely struck shot in the first minute of the second period as they looked to get back into the game. They had some extended time in the Breidablik half but without the natural width of the injured Neil Farrugia or Trevor Clarke they lacked penetration.

Pohls pulled off a brilliant save with his foot to stop Svanthorsson scoring his second as Rovers rode their luck but from the resulting corner Breidablik worked a short corner with Gunnlaugsson sending the ball home to effectively end the tie for the Hoops.

They got a lifeline in the 64th minute with a handball in the box that required a VAR check on the sideline monitor from the Swedish referee. Graham Burke slotted home the spot kick for his eight goal in Europe – Rovers first goal in their last four matches.

Burke audaciously almost grabbed a goal moments later shooting from 45 yards with goalkeeper Anton Einarsson doing well to push out the ball out before he back peddled over the goalline.

Rovers will have to wait till Wednesday evening to find out who their opponents are in the Europa Conference League qualifiers. They will face the defeated team from the KI Klaksvik and Ferencvaros tie, with those teams having played out a scoreless draw last week in the first leg in the Faroe Islands.

Breidablik: Einarsson; Gunnlaugsson ©, Margeirsson, Muminović, Yeoman (Adalsteinsson 88); Sigurdarson (Ingvarsson 81), Sigurjónsson, Einarsson; Svanthórsson (Hlynsson 81), Steindórsson (Orrason 88), Eyjólfsson.
Subs not used: Bragason, Stefánsson, Lúdvíksson, Thorsteinsson, Olsen, Gunnarsson.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls; Hoare, Lopes, Cleary; Finn © (Grace 86), O'Neill, Poom (Watts 70), Towell (Greene 70), Kavanagh; Burke (Kenny 78), Gaffney.
Subs not used: Mannus, Cruise, Power, Noonan, Naj Razi.

Referee: Adam Ladeback (Sweden).

Breidablik: Anton Einarsson; Höskuldur Gunnlaugsson ©, Viktor Margeirsson, Damir Muminović, Andri Yeoman; Alexander Sigurdarson (Davíð Ingvarsson 81), Olíver Sigurjónsson, Viktor Einarsson; Jason Svanthórsson (Ágúst Hlynsson 81), Kristinn Steindórsson (Ásgeir Orrason 88), Gísli Eyjólfsson.
Subs not used: Brynjar Bragason, Arnór Adalsteinsson, Oliver Stefánsson, Anton Lúdvíksson, Ágúst Thorsteinsson, Klaemint Andrasson Olsen, Atli Gunnarsson.
Booked: Viktor Einarsson (75).

Shamrock Rovers: Leon Pohls; Sean Hoare, Pico Lopes, Daniel Cleary (Lee Grace 86); Ronan Finn, Gary O'Neill, Markus Poom (Dylan Watts 70), Richie Towell  (Aaron Greene 70), Sean Kavanagh; Graham Burke  (Johnny Kenny 78), Rory Gaffney.
Subs not used: Alan Mannus, Kieran Cruise, Simon Power, Conan Noonan, Naj Razi.
Booked: None.

Referee: Adam Ladeback (Swedan).
Attendance: 1,750 (estimate)