RoPS Rovaniemi 1 Shamrock Rovers 1 (RoPS win 3-1 on aggregate)
There was no fairytale ending for Shamrock Rovers in the land of Santa Claus last night as they duly bowed out of the Europa League.
Gary McCabe gave Roves the lead on the night but, sadly, a dreadful mistake by Hoops' keeper Craig Hyland gifted RoPS an equaliser.
Rovers were bright and inventive from the off with Dean Clarke, one of two changes in the starting XI from last week, central to their early probing.
Macedonian referee Dejan Jakimovski was unimpressed when Clarke appeared to be taken down in the area by RoPS’ captain Abdou Jammeh on three minutes.
Minutes later Simon Madden got free on the right for the first-time to cross for Clarke to plant his header over the bar.
There was thus little surprise when Rovers got their reward on the scoreboard on 22 minutes.
This time Jakimovski had no choice in pointing to the spot as Juha Pirinen pulled down Clarke in the area after a surging run by Brandon Miele.
Despite attempts at some minds games from RoPS’s keeper Antonio Reguero, Gary McCabe, the Hoops' skipper on the night, calmly slotted the penalty into the bottom-right corner.
But just when they looked right back in the tie, Rovers conceded a shocking equaliser five minutes later.
A howler by keeper Craig Hyland, whose clearance went straight to William Oluremi John, gifted the RoPS striker the chance to square the ball for Muinonen to tap into the unguarded net.
Remarkably, Hyland repeated the mistake on 35 minutes. Thankfully, this time his clearance cannoned out for John for a goal kick.
The Finnish side made changes at the break and they carved the first opening 11 minutes in.
Aleksandr Kokko disked a ball wide right to Janne Saksela who set up Robert Taylor whose first time shot was straight into the arms of Hyland.
Terrific defending at the other end then prevented Rovers regaining the lead on 66 minutes.
Madden worked a one-two with Patrick Cregg to get in behind to cross.
That found Gavin Brenann whose low drive was brilliantly parried by Reguero.
The rebound fell for Gary Shaw who saw his shot brilliantly blocked by Juuso Hamalainen.
Hoops’ substitute Sean Boyd had a last minute chance, but his close range shot from Gavin Brennan’s pull back was blocked by Jammeh.
RoPS Rovaniemi: Reguero; Lahdenmaki, Jammeh, Hamalainen, Pirinen; Saksela, Taylor, Mravec, Saine (Makitalo, h-t; Nganbe Nganbe, 53), Muinonen; John (Kokko, h-t).
Shamrock Rovers: Hyland; Madden, Cornwall, Heaney, G. Brennan; Cregg, K. Brennan; Miele (T. Clarke, 67), McCabe, D. Clarke (Boyd, 73); Shaw (Dobbs, 73.
Referee: Dejan Jakimovksi (Macedonia).