Euro agony as Lilywhites come so close

Dundalk's Sean Gannon dejected after the game. Picture: INPHO/Ante Cizmic

Hajduk Split 1 Dundalk 2(3-2 to Hajduk on aggregate)
Dundalk agonisingly missed out on a place in the third qualifying round of the Europa League after going down 3-2 on aggregate to Hajduk Split, despite beating the Croatians in the Stadion Poljud last night.

Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, Stephen Kenny’s side were another goal away from advancing after coming from behind in the second half to set up a tense finale.

The home side took the lead on 25 minutes when Sandro Gotal played in Jean Evrad Kouassi, who beat the Dundalk defence and then slotted the ball past Gabriel Sava.

Dundalk refused to throw in the towel and gave themselves hope of a stunning comeback when substitute Pat Hoban pulled a goal back on 66 minutes, after rounding goalkeeper Dante Stipica to finish.

Fellow substitute Kurtis Byrne added a second for the Louth men 16 minutes from time when he met Chris Shields’ cross to set up a nervy finish for Hajduk.

However, despite the Lilywhites throwing men forward to find the goal that would send them through, the Croats held out to set up a third qualifying round tie with Shakhter Karagandy of Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile Irish League side Linfield bowed out against AIK Solna, losing 2-1 on aggregate after a 2-0 defeat last night.

Crusaders drew 1-1 with Swedes IF Brommapojkarna at Seaview after losing the first leg 4-0.

English Premier League Hull will face Trencin in their first ever European tie — although the Slovakians had to survive a concerted fightback by FK Vojvodina, who trailed 4-0 going into the second leg but won 3-0 in Serbia.

HAJDUK SPLIT: Stipica; Nizic, Maloca, Milovic, Jozinovic; Vlasic, Caktas (Milic 78), Bencun; Andelkovic, Gotal, Kouassi.

DUNDALK: Sava; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Shields, Higgins (Meenan 87); Mountney, Towell, McDermott (Hoban 57); McMillan (Byrne 57).

Referee: I Avram (Romania).


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