A brace from Dare Vrsic helped Olimpija Ljubljana to a two nil home win over Bohemians and leaves Pat Fenlon’s side with a lot of work to do in the second leg.
Backed by strong home support Olimpija took they took the game to last season’s league of Ireland runner’s up from the start and but for some wayward finishing and the crossbar would have been far more comfortable heading to Dalymount Park next week.
As early as the 9th minute Bohs were thankful to the cross bar with Matic Fink’s thunderous shot from 20 yards destined for the back of the net and 17 minutes later the knee of Anej Lovrecic came to the aid of Barry Murphy and his defence, the former Lecce player kneeing over with the goal at his mercy.
With Bohemians defending in numbers the possibility of heading down the half time tunnel seemed realistic aim for the Dublin side however things went awry in injury time.
With Olimpija threatening Owen Heary was forced to clear off his own line, his dramatic clearance however only made it as far as Lovrecic, whose inviting cross was missed by Murphy who instead took down Dalibor Radujko, the referee wasting little time in pointing to the spot.
26-year old Slovenian international Vrsic stepped up to take the kick and made no mistake to take the home side 1-0 up at the break.
The second half echoed the first with Olimpija continuing to dominate as Bohs struggled to create any chances, the home side restricting their guests to just three efforts on target in the whole 90 minutes.
However Olimpija couldn’t put Bohs to the sword and they needed the awarding of dubious free kick to seal the game and possibly the tie.
There appeared to be very little contact made when Matic Fink was tackled by Liam Burns outside the box, the player appearing to trip over himself more than anything; however the referee, Carlos Xistra, had other ideas and awarded a free kick, a decision that incensed Killian Brennan leading to a booking for dissent.
The awarding of the free kick might have been controversial but there was no doubting the finish with Vrsic stepping up to score off the underside of the bar to seal the win with 14 minutes to go.
Fenlon will take heart from his side stout defending but knows his side will have a lot to do if they are to extend their European adventure to another round.
Sportsnewsireland.com will have live score updates on all GAA Championship matches over the summer.