Rovers frozen out by Kazan sharpshooter Valdez

NELSON VALDEZ had the quality to clinically punish bad defending as Shamrock Rovers were frozen out in Kazan last night.

A brilliantly taken brace of goals from the Paraguayan international striker put Rovers to the sword as Michael O’Neill’s men lost for the fifth time in Group A.

O’Neill refused to be too downbeat afterwards. “To be fair, they reacted well to score the equaliser. At 2-1, I thought it was a very even game, but ultimately Kazan showed their quality in the second half.

“I can’t ask for any more of my players. It’s been a long season, that was our 58th game, so they are very tired. But they’ve had a fantastic season, are league champions again and had great experience in Europe.”

In temperatures of -5C, Rovers started well, but Kazan’s superiority wasn’t long showing and they had the lead on 10 minutes, as Rovers conceded an early goal in Europe once again.

Played in again by Ecudorian Christian Noboa, Valdez powered past Ken Oman too easily before drilling past Ryan Thompson.

Rovers stung back within two minutes, though. Ronan Finn won a free on the right which was whipped to the far post by Billy Dennehy for Oman to score with a downward header.

Having survived a couple of half chances with Valdez and Obafemi Martins shooting off target, Rovers might have gone ahead on the half hour. Stephen Rice put Dennehy away on the right and he cut in only to shoot feebly at keeper Sergei Ryzhikov with Karl Sheppard screaming for the ball in the centre.

A goalkeeping fumble at the other end should have seen Rubin regain the lead minutes later. Thompson flapped at a cross which was pulled back by Aleksandr Ryazantsev for Noboa whose shot was brilliant hacked off the line by Dan Murray.

But it was a short-lived reprieve as Rubin regain the lead on 36 minutes.

Martins did well on the edge of the area to set up Bebras Natcho who turned well to find the bottom corner of Thompson’s net with a crisp drive.

Valdez sealed the win on 51 minutes, latching onto a ball over the top to beat the offside trap and ruthlessly slam home.

Martins got a very contentious fourth 11 minutes later. The Nigerian tapped home after Gokdeniz Karadeniz’s cross ricocheted luckily into his path despite the goal-line assistant not having seen that it had gone out of play.

“The disappointing thing for us was the nature of the goals we conceded,” said O’Neill afterwards.

“The first goal set the tone.

“It was a poor goal, Ken makes a bad decision. Against the likes of Martins and Valdez bad decisions defensively will be punished. We need to try to omit those.”

RUBIN KAZAN: Ryzhikov, Kaleshin, Sharonov, Cesar Navas, Bocchetti, Ryazantsev (Dyadyun 71), Noboa, Natcho, Karadeniz (Ansaldi 70), Haedo Valdez (Kasaev 61), Martins. Subs: Berezin, Ansaldi, Bystrov, Nemov, Dyadyun, Kverkvelia.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Thompson, Sullivan, Oman, Murray, Stevens, Rice, Dennehy, Finn (O’Donnell 70), Turner (Twigg 81), Paterson (Kilduff 70), Sheppard. Subs: Brush, O’Donnell, McCabe, Twigg, Kilduff, O’Neill, Ricketts. Referee: H Lechner (Austria).

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