The Lilywhites’ Europa League campaign went up in smoke in the Bulgarian capital as Ian Foster’s men were unable to cope with a vastly superior Levski side.
“It was a huge step up in class,” Foster said. “We couldn’t cope. It’s hard to take. We knew it was going to be tough. We knew how gifted Levski are and we couldn’t compete.
Sofia took the lead when recalled Dundalk goalkeeper Peter Cherrie flapped on a Joaozinho corner to allow Hristo Yoyov sweep the ball into the unguarded net.
It quickly got worse for the visitors. Yoyov started the move, finding Darko Tasevski in space and he split the Louthmen’s defence with a perfect pass that gave Daniel Mladenov all the time in the world to beat Cherrie from the edge of the box.
French striker Garra Dembele made it three four minutes before half time, playing a neat one-two with Taveski and beating Cherrie at his near post with a rising drive that gave the Scottish stopper no chance.
Just 48 seconds of the second half had elapsed when Levski grabbed a fourth as Garry Breen’s sliced clearance went straight to Tasevski who found Mladenov in the box and he chipped the ball over Cherrie.
The goalkeeper made up for his earlier error by keeping the score down in the second half but the rout was completed by substitute Ismail Isa who headed home on 86, before tapping home a sixth in injury time.
LEVSKI SOFIA: Petkov; Stanchev, Miliev, Ivanov, Minev; Gadzhev, Yovov (Baltanov 53); Mladenov, Tasevski (Aleksandrov 65), Joaozinho; Dembele (Isa 78).
DUNDALK: Cherrie; Kelly, McGuigan, Breen, Hatswell; Maher, Miller, Cawley; Kuduzovic (McGowan 80), Fenn (Lennon 60), Gaynor.
Referee: D Orsato (Italy).