Robert Vittek’s attacking prowess was evident last night SK Slovan Bratislava ended UCD’s European jaunt.
A hat-trick for the veteran Slovakian striker, two of which came in stoppage time, crowned an aggregate 6-1 victory and sealed a Europa League third round meeting against Russian side FC Krasnodar.
Youthful exuberance from the Students was easily suppressed a slick outfit seldom troubled over the two legs.
“Mentally and physically, we are all drained,” admitted UCD boss Collie O’Neill afterwards. “We’ve had a brilliant month by playing four games in the Europa League and the experience will stand to these players.”
The breakthrough arrived for Slovan after Frantisek Kubik stood a cross up from the left to the far post, where Marko Milinkovic nodded back across goal for Vittek to apply a diving header from eight yards.
A goal before the interval was followed with another swiftly afterwards. Milinkovic skipping past a couple of defenders and tucking a low shot home.
Just at it seemed a landslide could follow, UCD pulled one back, as Ryan Swan dispossessed Kornel Salata near the halfway line, sprinted clear before stroking the ball under Jan Mucha to become the club’s record goalscorer in Europe with three strikes.
Salata made his height count from a corner on 81 minutes by heading home Milinkovic’s delivery for 3-1.
Vittek then gave the scoreline a flattering look to it by, firstly, racing free a minute into added time to grab another and then crane his neck to connect with Milinkovic’s left-wing cross a couple of minutes later.
For UCD, the exit will be softened by the €410,000 due from Uefa .
Corbett; Leahy, Boyle, Kouogun, Langtry; O’Neill, Watts (Cannon 55); Mulhall (Belhout 86), Benson, Doyle (Kirwan 75); Swan.
Mucha; Sekulic, Dobrotka (Hudak 69), Salata, Podany; Lasic, Stafanik; Milinkovic (Gasparovic 83), Kubic (Orsula 67), Zrelak; Vittek.
Ognjen Valjic (BIH)