Luckless Saints left a mountain to climb

LUCKLESS St Patrick’s Athletic suffered a cruel late blow in the Ukraine last night when a goal three minutes into injury time gave Karpaty Lviv a two-goal advantage going into next Thursday’s return leg.

Compounding the disappointment for Pats last night was Pete Mahon’s belief that the last minute free-kick which resulted in the second goal was wrongly awarded and that, furthermore, Voronkov was offside when he scored on the rebound from Gary Rogers’ initial save.

“But there’s no use in feeling sorry for ourselves because nobody else will,” said the manager. “We have to get over it and bounce back, which we’ve done before.

“It would have been very interesting to bring them back to Dublin at 1-0 but 2-0 makes it that bit harder. We’ll have to be a bit more adventurous next Thursday.

“It will be interesting if we score first — and we have won 2-0 at home in the last two rounds, although these are a step up from what we faced before.”

Although defender Artem Fedetskiy had broken the deadlock for the home side in the Ukrayina Stadion in the 34th minute, St Pat’s — with goalkeeper Gary Rogers in fine form behind a stalwart defence — had proceeded to frustrate their opponents for the remainder of normal time.

It was a performance all the more notable given that Pat’s were without the attacking threat of Daryl Kavanagh and the midfield guile of Stephen Bradley, both of whom were missing through suspension following the elimination of Karagandy in the last round.

And last night Pat’s seemed on course for another satisfying performance on foreign fields, until substitute Andrei Voronov, a Belarussian international on loan to Karpaty from Dynamo Kiev, grabbed a precious second for the home side with virtually the last kick of the game.

UEFA have obliged Pat’s to move from their Inchicore home to Tallaght Stadium for next week’s return leg, when Pete Mahon’s men will now require their biggest performance to date if they are turn this tie around and extend their marathon European odyssey.

Meanwhile, Stoke beat Hajduk Split 1-0 at home in the first leg of their Europa League third qualifying round tie.

Ireland’s Jon Walters grabbed the Potters goal in the third minute when he found space to nod in Matthew Etherington’s measured cross.

Fulham endured a frustrating evening in Croatia as RNK Split eked out a goalless draw in the Europa League third qualifying round.

The Cottagers failed to impress at Dugopolje’s Stadion Hrvatski Vitezovi and struggled to unleash a menacing attack at any stage of the first leg.

Split had two gilt-edged chances to score, with Ante Erceg fluffing a one-on-one opportunity in the sixth minute before substitute Duje Cop missed an equally inviting chance in the dying minutes of the game.

Hearts drew 1-1 away to Paks in the first leg of their Europa League third qualifying round first leg match.

Jamie Hamill’s penalty gave Hearts a crucial away goal in Hungary and brought them level halfway through the first leg of their Europa League qualifier after Istvan Sipeki gave Paks a 32nd-minute lead.

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