Shamrock Rovers came crashing back down to earth as they were outclassed by Russian side Rubin Kazan going down 3-0 in Group A of the Europa League at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday night.
Goals from former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins, Christian Noboa and the Gokdeniz Karadeniz ensured Rubin began the group with three points and avoided a potential banana skin.
Given the gulf in class between the sides it was no surprise that Rovers endured a difficult night and a first half penalty saved by Ryan Thompson ensured that the score line stayed at three.
Michael O’Neill’s side recovered from a poor start that saw them go one down inside three minutes when Karadeniz’s cross made its way to Martins who swept the ball past Thompson.
Given the occasion and the sense of history not to mention expectations, nerves were always going to be a factor and the hoops were unlucky not to not to find themselves two down after ten minutes when Nelson Valdez drilled over.
Rovers finally settled and got in to the game, Stephen O’Donnell heading over a Rohan Ricketts’ cross under pressure from keeper Sergei Ryzhikov.
However they got lucky again on 35 minutes when Martin’s pace took him clear of the Tallaght back line forcing Craig Sives into a foul leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. Thompson making a vital save from Valdez’s kick.
Ecuadorian international Noboa all but made the game safe for the visitors when he scored from the edge of the box on 52 minutes and while Ronan Finn went close header after net work from Gary Twigg, O’Neill’s side were struggling to create chances.
10 minutes after Noboa made it two, Karadeniz put the result beyond any doubt with a superb strike that went in off the of the bar and Rubin were home and dry.
Rovers were handed a chance to reduce the arrears four minutes later when César Navas tripped Twigg in the box however O’Donnell’s effort was saved by the legs of Ryzhikov.
Rubin continued to attacked and almost added a fourth when Natcho saw his effort come back off the foot of the post that effort spurred Rovers in to life and they pushed forward in one last attempt to find a goal with Murray, Turner and Dennehy all threatening the Russian goal.
In the end they couldn’t find a goal and despite being outclassed on the night the Hoops will be head to White Hart Lane to face Spurs with nothing to lose.