Cork City’s Europa League campaign will stretch through to the third qualifying round and the month of August after Kevin O’Connor’s volley secured a famous win against their Swedish opponents tonight and, with it, a 2-1 aggregate success, writes Brendan O’Brien.
The result is worth another €220,000 to the club, bringing to €630,000 the prize money banked so far in the competition, in what was another notable European result for the domestic league after Dundalk’s success the night before in Iceland.
That said, Hacken dominated the majority of the first-half, just as City had the same period in the first leg, so the visitors must have been puzzled at finding the dressing-rooms at half-time having fallen behind on the night to their hosts.
Mark McNulty, who made some crucial saves in Gothenburg seven days earlier, made another brace after 18 and 19 minutes from John Owoeri and Nasiru Mohammed while Mohammed Abubakari and Paulinho had efforts cleared off the line by Alan Bennett and Stephen Dooley.
Needless to say, then, that City’s 23rd-minute opener came against the run of play.
Greg Bolger created it, his clever free-kick from out wide being pulled back to the edge of the area from where O’Connor volleyed home via a deflection. It was City’s first goal from open play in four Europa League games this season.
Hacken’s hopes of claiming the result that would keep their campaign alive was hampered even more before the interval when the dangerous Nasiru Mohammed was stretchered off after a late foul by Garry Buckley.
City started the second-half positively enough without ever looking like adding a second but there was a sense of the inevitable as Hacken began to press again and City sit back in what was a repeat of the early stages but, thankfully for Cork, without the glut of chances.
The best chance of the half came when Gearoid Morrissey’s blistering shot from the edge of the area was tipped over the bar by the Hacken goalkeeper and, though there was the expected last-gasp bombardment from the Swedes, City held on.
No-one could say it wasn’t deserved over the two legs.
Cork City: M McNulty; M McSweeney, K Browne, A Bennett, K O’Connor; G Morrissey, G Bolger; S Beattie, G Buckley, S Dooley; S Maguire.
Subs: G Holohan for Morrissey (78); M O’Sullivan for Maguire (89).
BK Hacken: P Abrahamsson; J Andersson, E Wahlstrom, J Sudic, K Arkivuo; S Gustafsson, R Schuller, M Abubakari; N Mohammed, J Oweiri, Paulinho.
Subs: D Savage for Mohammed (45); M Ericsson for Schuller (64); A Jeremjeff for Owoeri (72).
Referee: CM Taborda Xistra (Portugal).