Shamrock Rovers coach Michael O’Neill was delighted with the way his side applied themselves despite their 2-0 defeat against Juventus in the first leg of their Europa League third qualifying round clash at Tallaght Stadium last night.
A double from Amauri was enough to give the Serie A giants victory in Dublin, but the hosts acquitted themselves well after a nervy start and defender Dan Murray missed two very good chances to pull a goal back.
O’Neill admitted his side had struggled early on, conceding the opener in the third minute, but was pleased with their overall display.
He told RTE: “Early on in the game we tried to go from back to front far too quickly. We said beforehand that we needed to have belief and get settled in the game, but we never had that after going behind so early. It took us 25 minutes to get settled.
“In the second half we moved the ball around well, but I felt we could have put the ball in the box more. We knew we were a threat from set pieces but you are always aware of the quality they have.
“I always felt we could go out and play the way we did and have patches where we could hassle them, but we knew it would be difficult to do that for 90 minutes against a side of their quality. In the end I couldn’t have asked any more of the players.”
Shamrock are now faced with the daunting task of travelling to Italy for the second leg next week, although that game will be played in Modena as the Stadio Olimpico is being used by fellow Dubliners U2 for a concert on their ongoing world tour, and O’Neill hopes his side can repeat tonight’s display.
“We have to go out in the second leg and a give a good account of ourselves in Italy,” he said.
Bangor’s hopes of causing a Europa League shock were shattered in the third qualifying round as they crumbled to a humiliating 8-2 defeat by Maritimo in Madeira.
The Welsh club were already trailing to goals from Tcho, who scored after 33 minutes, and Danilo, who doubled the lead five minutes later, when captain Jamie Brewerton was sent off just before half-time.
He was ordered off after a heavy challenge on Maritimo’s Abdelmalek Cherrad.
The islanders took full advantage of their extra man and added second-half goals from Baba Diawara, who netted after 51 and 78 minutes, Danilo (75), Tcho (79) and substitutes Kanu (80) and Fidelis (90).
Nicky Ward (73) and Eddie Jebb (90) scored the consolations for Bangor, who scored the final goal and will face the same opponents next Thursday at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground.