St. Patrick’s Athletic came up way short of their own expectations as they bowed tamely out of the Europa League tonight.
Žalgiris midfielder Mantas Kuklys scored a well-taken goal before providing a fine assist as Pat's lost 2-1 to the Lithuanian side at Richmond Park.
A 4-3 aggregate score thus sees Žalgiris through to meet Armenian side FC Pyunik in the second round next week as St. Pat’s proud run of 11 games unbeaten in Europe in Inchicore was brought to a somewhat unexpected end.
Drogheda United are also out as they lost 2-0 in Malmo, to lose on a 2-0 aggregate.
Trailing 2-0 from early in the second half, St. Pat’s rallied late on following a Killian Brennan penalty.
But in truth Liam Buckley’s side played nothing near as well as they did in the first leg when taking home a 2-2 draw from Vilnius and can have few complaints.
As they finished that first leg, St. Pat’s started well, knocking the ball around confidently, though without really troubling Žalgiris who gradually worked their way into the game.
And it was the Lithuanians who finished the half strongly, taking a deserved lead in the first minute of added time.
St. Pat’s gave the ball away twice and were then sluggish getting back as Kuklys took full advantage, controlling the ball well before finding the bottom right-hand corner of Brendan Clarke’s net with a well-struck right foot drive from the edge of the area.
Kuklys was involved as Žalgiris stunned the home crowd to double their lead seven minutes into the second half in scoring their tie winning second.
Pavel Komolov put Kuklys away on the right with a fine pass and his low cross was tapped home by Polish international Kamil Bilinski.
St. Pat’s boss Liam Buckley brought on Aidan Price and Anto Flood as he switched a 3-5-2 formation in an attempt to retrieve the game.
But it wasn't until an 85th minute trip by Žalgiris captain Andrius Skerla on Flood inside the area brought any hope as Brennan duly blasted home the resulting penalty.
Despite their late huff and puff, however, St. Pat’s couldn’t threaten again as Žalgiris held out to deserve their passage through to the second round.
In Sweden, Mick Cooke's Drogheda frustrated Malmo for much of a tight first half, but were hit with a sucker punch as they conceded right in the 45th minute.
Tokelo Rantie put midfielder Emil Forsberg through on goal and he chipped past Gabriel Sava.
Simon Kroon added a second for Malmö two minutes into added time at the end.