Far from embarrassing the league, as one pundit suggested they might, First Division UCD did the domestic game proud as they beat a hugely more experienced and technically efficient Dudelange at the UCD Bowl.
This first leg victory means that UCD were the only League of Ireland side to win their European tie this week and it also maintained their record of not having lost at home in Europe.
Collie O’Neill’s young and inexperienced side were always up against it facing a team that have competed regularly in Europe, and one which contained three current Luxembourg internationals, including regular goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert, their captain, who has 77 caps.
There were no signs of nerves by College as they started positively, however, taking the game to the visitors.
Dudelange soon settled, though, with Kevin Nakache firing wide before then putting in a diagonal ball for the pace of Sofian Benzouien, whose header was straight at College keeper Niall Corbet.
A long throw from Mark Langtry saw UCD threaten for the first time on 17 minutes with Jamie Doyle’s weak header comfortable for Joubert.
UCD had a real let off on 24 minutes when a loose ball sat up nicely for Dudelange striker Sanel Ibrahimovic whose right foot shot from the edge of the area came back off a post.
Dudelange were causing UCD real problems on the counter and Corbet had to make a fine save when dangerman Benzouien got through one-on-one.
Corbet then bettered that to push Gregory Adler’s shot round a post on 44 minutes.
Despite being under the cosh, UCD took a shock lead in the final minute of the first half, for what would prove their winner.
Skipper Robbie Benson nicked the ball off Joel Pedro to thread it through for Swan and the 19-year-old delightfully slipped the ball under Joubert to the net.
Dudelange might have been level five minutes into the second half, but Ibrahimovic just failed to connect with a sublime ball into the College area by Daniel Da Mota.
But it was a more even second period and the save of the match prevented UCD getting a second goal on 65 minutes.
The ball was knocked back from a throw in for Chris Mulhall whose crisp 25-yard drive was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Joubert.
Nakache then did well to get his body in the way to block a shot form Ryan McLaughlin.
An immediate counter should have seen Dudelange level. Da Mota broke to set up substitute David Turpel who blasted wide.
Remarkably, UCD then were inches from doubling their lead on 82 minutes.
Chris Mulhall did well on the right to tee up Benson whose volley cannoned back off the crossbar.
UCD take their narrow lead into the second leg in Dudelange next Thursday.
Corbet; Langtry, Boyle, Leahy, McLaughlin; O’Neill; Mulhall, Benson, Watts (Watson, 90+2), Doyle; Swan.
Joubert; De Sousa, Schnell, Prempeh, Ney; Pedro, Nakache; Adler (Turpel, 58); Benzouien, Ibrahimovic (Teixeira, 83), Da Mota (Lauriente, 74).
Petur Reinert (Faroe Islands).