Rovers make history in Belgrade

Partizan Belgrade 1 Shamrock Rovers 2 (aet) (Agg: 2-3)

Partizan Belgrade 1 Shamrock Rovers 2 (aet) (Agg: 2-3)

Stephen O’Donnell scored a dramatic extra-time penalty, to add to a stunning equaliser on the night from Pat Sullivan, as Shamrock Rovers realised their European dream in the cauldron of Belgrade tonight.

Michael O’Neill's side created history by becoming the first Irish side to make the group stages of a European competition and go into tomorrow’s Europa League draw, worth in excess of €1m.

In stifling heat that registered 32 degrees at kick-off time, Rovers started nervously and were under the cosh form the off with a Ryan Thompson error not punished on three minutes when Vladimir Jovancic shot wide when through one-on-one.

Thompson redeemed himself with a terrific stop from Vladimir Volkov’s header. But Paritzan deservedly took the lead on 35 minutes when impressive left-back Volkov headed home a Nemanja Tomic corner.

Rovers switched to a 4-4-2 for the second half with Karl Sheppard coming in for the Billy Dennehy.

Hoops almost silenced the home crowd two minutes in when Turner’s header from an Enda Stevens cross shaved the outside of a post.

But Rovers were level on 58 minutes when Sullivan scored with a stunning 25-yard volley after a corner dropped to him.

O’Donnell made two terrific saving tackle as Rovers took the tie to extra-time.

The woodwork came to Rovers rescue in the second minute of extra-time when a curling free-kick from Babovic came back of Thompson’s left hand post.

The tie turned Rovers way on 113 minutes when Sheppard won a penalty in a challenge by Radisa Ilic and O’Donnell sent the said keeper the wrong way.

Partizan then had midfielder Medo sent off for a callous stamp on a grounded Sheppard.

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