In spite of a generally improved performance from the first leg last week, it mattered little in the final analysis as St. Patrick’s duly bowed out of the Europa League at the AWD-Arena in Hannover last night.
Acknowledging they needed to keep the ball better than they did in losing 3-0 at Tallaght Stadium last week, and press Hannover further up the pitch, an unchanged St. Patrick’s started purposefully, forcing two early corners and were encouraged by almost taking the lead from the second of them corners on 11 minutes.
Sean O’Connor’s delivery was only half-cleared and when the ball was put back across by John Russell, captain Conor Kenna — who controlled it superbly on his chest but his volley was marginally too high.
St. Patrick’s had had a scare minutes earlier when Mohammed Abdellaoue’s shot was deflected over for Hannover’s first corner of the game.
Otherwise, manager Liam Buckley would have been pleased with the start his side made as Hannover were content to get behind the ball and let St. Patrick’s have it and pass it around, though without really threatening them again in the final third.
Eradicating basics errors was the other area St. Patrick’s were conscious of after Dublin. But, alas, they fell prey to that in undoing their good early work.
And Hannover had more than enough about them to punish indiscipline and poor defending to all but put the tie to bed with the lead goal on the night on 32 minutes.
Ger O’Brien was spoken to by the Azeri referee in conceding a free-kick for a foul on Hungarian winger Szabolcs Huszti on the left.
That was compounded by some negligent marking in the area from Huszti’s ball across as central defender Karim Haggui got to it ahead of Kenny Browne to score with a glancing header.
Further poor marking resulted in St. Patrick’s conceding again two minutes into the second-half.
Hannover worked a short corner with Konstantin Rausch providing the killer ball into the area where substitute Mario Heggimann’s rising header entered the net off the under side of the crossbar.
Having had little of the ball, St. Patrick’s were a little ragged now and Leon Andreasen was given too much space to drill wide from distance.
James Chambers was then caught in possession close to goal by Artur Sobiech with Brendan Clarke having to be sharply off his line to save at the striker’s feet.
Clarke made the save of the game on 72 minute when diving full length to push away Abdellaoue’s 30-yard drive in the 72nd minute before the same player planted a free header over the bar from a Huszti cross in the final minute.
“We’d be a little bit disappointed as there was not much in it in the first half,” said Buckley. “But we gave away a sloppy goal from a set play which took the wind out of our sails.
“In the second-half Hannover played really well for the first 20 minutes and we got tired. Hannover fully deserved their win.”
“We were very fortunate in both legs in scoring at the right times,” said Hannover boss Mirko Slomka.
“St. Pat’s put pressure on us in the first-half and we were lucky when they hit the bar.
“They were strong opponents who were very good physically and gave us a good game.”
HANNOVER 96: Zieler; Cherundolo, Haggui, Schulz (Eggimann, 39 mins.), Bausch; Stindl, Pinto (Schmiedebach, 64 mins.), Andreasen, Huszti; Abdellaoue, Ya Konan (Sobiech, h/t).
ST. PAT’S: Clarke; O’Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Russell (Carroll, 64 mins.), Chambers, Bolger; Forrester (Meenan, 58 mins.), Fagan (Flood, 80 mins.), O’Connor.
Referee: Anar Salmanov (Azerbaijan).
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