Vinny Perth 'proud' as Will Patching fires Dundalk to Euro win in Tallinn

League of Ireland side fire stoppage-time winner to reach next round of Europa Conference League
Vinny Perth 'proud' as Will Patching fires Dundalk to Euro win in Tallinn

Will  Patching scores Dundalk's winning goal in injury time during the Uefa Europa Conference League second qualifying round second leg against Ledavia at Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia. Picture: Joosep Martinson/Sportsfile

Uefa Conference League 2nd round, 2nd leg 

Levadia Tallinn 1 Dundalk 2 

Dundalk win 4-3 on aggregate 

Dundalk dug deep to deliver another European night on their travels to remember, overcoming Levadia Tallinn to set up a Conference League third duel with Vitesse of Arnhem next week.

At the same A Le Coq Arena where a decade ago Ireland all but ended a 24-year wait for a Euro finals appearance, the Lilywhites were heading for extra time until Will Patching raced clear two minutes into stoppage time to pillage a winner.

It caps some revival for the Manchester City trainee, who began the season out of favour and out of the club on loan at Derry City. A change of management, with Vinny Perth returning to the club he was sacked from this time last year, engineered a pathway for redemption.

With the tie evenly poised at 2-2 from last week’s first leg at Tallaght, the hosts nipped in front after 17 minutes through Ernest Agyiri, a former City Academy colleague of Patching’s.

However, the League of Ireland’s leading scorer in Europe, David McMillan, brought his haul to 14 by equalising on the stroke of half-time before Patching produced the late intervention.

The game might have turned a different direction on 55 minutes had Icelandic referee Thorvaldur Árnason awarded a penalty to the hosts. Andy Boyle was mightily fortunate to get away with handling the ball from Zakaria Beglarishvili’s cross.

“I think that the right team won but we made hard work of it,” a jubilant Perth told LMFM afterwards.

"A lot of our players made a real impact tonight and it shows the value of the squad.

“I'm very proud of them and I'm very proud of Irish football with this latest great night for the game.

"This team is not going away anywhere soon. Don't mind me; this is about the group, the club. We'll stick together despite the noise and keep going.” 

 Despite a promising opening, Dundalk were undone by Sam Stanton’s gifting possession cheaply to Frank Livvak.

From there, Beglarishvili released Agyiri whose shot whisked past a tame attempt to save by Alessio Abibi.

Stanton almost atoned on the half hour by shaving the crossbar with a shot but they soon plundered the leveller. Darragh Leahy, Raivis Jurkovskis and, finally, Greg Sloggett inside the box, were involved, squaring for McMillan to tuck the ball home from eight yards.

Stanton, once again, went close by arrowing a shot wide after the break and Sonni Nattestad also caused some danger in the box as Levadia lived dangerously.

Still, Agyiri found a gap on 67 minutes to unleash a shot which this time Abibi had no problems dealing with.

Extra-time seemed certain when McEleney missed the target but the talisman, departing for Derry in November, played his part in the winner by slipping Patching clear.

Karl Andre Vallner in the home goal didn’t cover himself in glory by allowing the ball sweep right through his body but the men from Louth, nor their American owners grossing €850,000 from this run, won’t mind how their European odyssey continues.

LEVADIA TALLINN: KA Vallner; M Podholjuzin, M Mitrović, M Uggè, M Ilić (T Elhi 71); B Lepistu; F Liivak, M Putinčanin, B Vaštšuk (MO Roosnupp 34), E Agyiri (KR Õigus 71); Z Beglarishvili (R Kirss 65).

DUNDALK: A Abibi; R Jurkovskis; S Nattestad, A Boyle, D Leahy; S Stanton (W Zahibo 90+1), G Sloggett; D Kelly (S Murray 70), W Patching, P McEleney; D McMillan (P Hoban 62).

Referee: Thorvaldur Árnason (ICL).

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