Champions League, 2nd Qualifying Round, First Leg
Shamrock Rovers FC 1-0 FC Flora Tallinn,Tallaght Stadium, July 12, KO: 8pm
Shamrock Rovers will take a slender one nil lead to Estonia for the 2nd leg of their Champions League 2nd round qualifier thanks to Chris Turner’s 34 minute goal.
FC Flora arrived at Tallaght stadium, for Rovers first “home” European game in 25 years, in good form having gone unbeaten in 16 league games this season while Rovers were in the midst of some inconsistent form having lost two of their last three games with the added pressure of never having won a game in Europe’s premier competition.
Rovers were quick of the blocks with Ronan Finn testing Flora keeper Stanislav Pedõk in the 5th minute with an effort and the keeper was called into action shortly after with Billy Dennehy going close. Michael O’Neill’s men were dominating the early exchanges with former Estonian under 21 keeper Pedõk again called into action to save a Gary Twigg effort.
However having weathered the early storm Flora very nearly took the lead themselves from the penalty spot when Ken Oman was adjusted to have fouled, Alan Mannus making a crucial save from Valeri Minkenen’s effort.
Less than a minute later and Rovers were in front when Turner, in the news for the wrong reason’s lately, converted from Ronan Finn’s centre. It was no more than Rovers deserved having dominated the game up to then however they failed to double their advantage before the break with Turner going close and Pedõk once again called into action, saving from Enda Stevens.
Rovers pushed on for that elusive second in the 2nd half however the Estonian’s were firm at the back even managing a late flurry of pressure on the Rovers goal. However the Hoop’s will now take a narrow lead over to Tallinn knowing that a 5th draw in 16 games will be enough to take them into the next qualifying round
Champions League football comes to Tallaght tonight as Shamrock Rovers prepare to take on FC Flora of Estonia.
Both managers have close to full-strength squads, although each is short of a striker. Karl Sheppard remains out of the Hoops squad for the tie with an ankle injury while the Estonians travel to Dublin without Estonian international Alo Dupikov.
“In an ideal world you would win the game and not concede a goal,” says Rovers manager Michael O’Neill.
“But I wouldn’t expect it. Obviously our goal is to progress and I know that the players are certainly confident that we can go through in this tie.”
A win tonight would be Shamrock Rovers’ first ever victory in the Champions League. The winner of this Champions League second qualifying round tie is guaranteed a minimum of €330,000, which would be a massive boost to either club’s budget.
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