The centre-forward ran at the home defence and his deflected right footed shot spun up and over goalkeeper Stefan Magnusson to roll into the net. It was Ross Gaynor’s ball over the top that set up the chance and it was a goal to silence the home crowd.
But it all turned sour for Cork after the break when they conceded twice with the decisive goal coming ten minutes into extra-time through Jacob Schoop.
After taking the lead, things got better for Cork when the home team had centre-half Fridgeirsson sent off on a second yellow in the 44th minute for a rash challenge on the City goal-scorer.
He had been booked minutes earlier for a foul on Sheppard that did not escape the Latvian referee.
Cork went into battle having won just three away European fixtures from a total of 22 matches so the pressure was on as the Leesiders knew they had to get a goal to stay in the competition.
City went with their strongest eleven with skipper Johnny Dunleavy, Dan Murray and Mark O’Sullivan all in the team having been second half substitutes for the first leg in Cork.
City made three changes from that 1-1 drawn match at Turner’s Cross with John O’Flynn on the bench and the Dennehys, Billy and Darren not involved at all.
The Icelandic Cup semi-finalists KR had two changes with Aron Bjarni Josepsson in at right-back and English-born striker Gary Martin the lone raider in a 4-2-3-1 formation that was exactly the same to Cork’s set up.
The home side again dominated the early passages of play and looked a threat out wide on a pitch that is wider and longer than Turner’s Cross.
It was a cagey opening but the onus was on Cork to score and they duly did when O’Sullivan sent their 150-strong support into raptures.
It was a record-equalling night and a milestone occasion for centre-half Dan Murray too who was making his 23rd club appearance in Europe as he joined Mick Devine and Colin O’Brien on that roll of honour.
Murray, the club’s top scorer in Europe with four goals, was making his 37 appearance in all given that he played for Shamrock Rovers when they made the group stages a few years ago.
Cork City had won three away games in Europe ever. Liam Kearney played in all three of these games, scoring in the wins away to Valur (2007) and Malmo (2004) and having an assist in the win away to Ekranas (2005).
The last time Cork played in Iceland they won 2-0 against Valur courtesy of a goal from Colin O’Brien and a free kick from Kearney in 2007 which was the last season City played on the European stage.
The red card for Fridgeirsson just before the interval was a big turning point in the tie and gave the visitors the psychological advantage again.
City had star men in Ross Gaynor and Kevin O’Connor on the flanks, Healy and Murray did well too but it was the battle scarred O’Sullivan who was their man of the match.
KR had the better of the second half and after prolonged pressure the equalising goal arrived when KR’s skipper Palmi Palmasson stabbed home from close range to force the tie to extra-time.
But it was cruel for Cork as KR grabbed the winner and a place in the next round when midfielder Jacob Schoop rounded Mark McNulty to slot home after ten minutes of extra-time.
- Magnusson; Gunnarsson, Fridgeirsson, Christenssen, Josepsson; Saevarsson, Palmason (capt); Hauksson, Schoop, Frederiksen; Martin.
Ormarsson for Saevarsson (52 mins), Ragnarsson for Gunnarsson (71 mins), G. Sigurdarson for Martin (103 mins), Jensson, K. Magnusson, Andrason & A. Sigurdarson (not used)
- McNulty; Dunleavy (capt), Bennett, Murray, O’Connor; Healy, Buckley; Sheppard, Miller, Gaynor; O’Sullivan.
Subs. Kearney for Miller (65 mins), O’Flynn for Sheppard (80 mns), Morrissey for O’Sullivan (112 mins), Holohan, McSweeney, Lehane & Smith ( not used)
Alex Anufrijevs (Latvia)