And it was nothing less than the Boynesiders deserved in a thrilling match at Dalymount Park.
Drogheda boss Paul Doolin was thrilled with his team’s second half display: “I felt we were excellent,” stated Doolin. “They are a decent side but we are a decent side away from home.”
Drogheda made one change from the side that beat St Pat’s in their last game. Jason Gavin came in for a first game since dislocating his shoulder in the Setanta Cup final three months ago.
Celtic legend Larsson, who captained the Swedes, had some clever touches in the opening five minutes, yet the first chance came Drogheda’s way when Dan Connor’s clearance was flicked on by Richie Baker to Eamon Zayed.
The big striker teed up Shane Robinson whose rising shot cleared the Helsingborgs crossbar.
Robinson found his range four minutes later when he intercepted Andreas Dahl’s pass and unleashed a powerful 25-yard shot which keeper Daniel Andersson could only parry. Zayed seized on the rebound but headed over.
Disaster almost struck seconds later when a miskick by Graham Gartland was pounced on by Larsson who quickly released Razak Omotoyossi. He tried to dribble round Connor but was forced wide and missed the target.
The game continued to flow and Connor was almost caught out by a looping Christoffer Andersson effort before the keeper reacted well to block Omotoyossi’s shot.
The Swedes broke the deadlock with a classic counter attack.
The ball was worked up the wing to Omotoyossi, and when he delivered an early cross, Brian Shelley slipped at a crucial moment allowing Larsson time to pick his spot and fire decisively past Connor from 12 yards.
For a 15-minute spell either side of half-time the game seemed to take a breather, but it was Drogheda who raised the tempo once more in the 51st minute when Tony Grant — on as a half-time sub for Ristila — teed up Robinson whose shot was blocked by a defender.
Three minutes later the Boynesiders were right back in the tie when Baker’s cross caused confusion in the Helsingborgs defence and Zayed muscled through before sending a low shot past Andersson.
Suddenly it was Drogheda winning all the corner kicks. Andersson showed good hands to save a Gartland header on the line, and then did well to hold onto a powerful shot by Shelley.
Robinson should have put the Boynesiders ahead when the ball broke to him 10 yards out, but he shot wide with only Andersson to beat.
If there was to be a winner, Drogheda looked the more likely, but they were almost undone by an 88th-minute sucker punch.
Larsson’s skill created a chance for Omotoyossi but he shot into the side netting, to the relief of Paul Doolin’s men.
Connor, Shelley, Gavin, Gartland, Webb, Baker, Robinson, Byrne, Keddy, Zayed, Ristila. Subs: Grant for Ristila (46min), Cahill for Keddy (51min), Keegan for Baker (78min).
D Andersson, Wahlstedt, Jacobsson, Ronningberg, Tamboura, C Andersson, Mariga, Dahl, Svanback, Larsson, Omotoyossi. Subs:
Sten Kaldma (Estonia).
Tobol Kostanay 0 Groclin Dyskobolia 1; Din. Tbilisi 0 Rapid Vienna 3; FC Mika 2 Petrzalka 1; MyPa 0 Blackburn R 1; Besa 0 Litex Lovech 3; Ekranas 1 Valerenga Oslo 1; Zlate Moravce 0 Zenit St. Petersburg 2; Din. Minsk 1 OB Odense 1; Haka Valkeakoski 1 FC Midtjylland 2; HJK Helsinki 2 AaB Aalborg 1; Ried 1 Sion 1; L. Metalurgs 3 AIK Stockholm 2; Maccabi Tel Aviv 1 Erciyesspor 1; Slaven Belupo 1 Galatasaray 2; Brann Bergen 2 Suduva 1; Budapest Honved 0 Hamburger SV 0; Omonia Nicosia 1 CSKA Sofia 1; Dnipro D’petrovsk 1 Belchatow 1; CFR Cluj 1 Anorthosis 3; Lokomotiv Sofia 3 Otelul Galati 1; Young Boys Bern 1 Lens 1; Hammarby 2 Fredrikstad 1; Kaerjeng 0 Standard Liege 3; Rabotnicki 0 Zrinski 0, Siroki Brijeg 0 Hapoel Tel Aviv 3, Basel 2 Mattersburg 1; Austria Vienna 4 Jablonec 3; Drogheda United 1 Helsingborg 1; Dunfermline 1 Hacken 1; Hajduk Split 0 Sampdoria 1; Uniao Leiria 0 Maccabi Netanya 0, Atletico Madrid 3, Vojvodina Novi Sad 0.
Rotherham 1 Sheff Wed 3.