Another memorable European night for Rovers

By Stephen Leonard

IT WAS another one of those memorable European nights in Tallaght Stadium yesterday as Shamrock Rovers secured their place in the Europa League second round qualifiers following a 2-1 victory (4-3 on aggregate) over SK Brann.

A great match and a brilliant result for the Tallaght side was marred only by the pitch invasion that greeted the winning goal by Gary O’Neill in the 87th.


Karamoko Daouda Bamba puts SK Bann 1-0 up

Carrying a narrow advantage into this tie by way of their 2-2 draw in Norway last week when Roberto Lopes served up a dramatic injury time equaliser, the Hoops and their faithful were taken on a rollercoaster ride last night as they battled back from a goal down to win 2-1 and set up a second round clash with Cypriot outfit Apollon Limassol next week.

Indeed two strikes by Jack Byrne and substitute O'Neill in the closing 15 minutes turned this tie on its head as Stephen Bradley's side overturned the narrow lead Karamoko Daouda Bamba handed the visitors 12 minutes into the second half.

While there was little room for error by either side, both teams carved out chances in an attacking first half with Fredrik Haugen shooting just over for the visitors before Rovers skipper Ronan Finn forced a stop from Brann goalkeeper Hakon Opdal.

The Hoops did have a call for a penalty when Dylan Watt’s effort looked to have stuck an arm, but their appeals were dismissed by the match official.


 Jack Byrne equalises for Shamrock Rovers in the 76 min

Gilli Rolantsson went close with his attempt for the visitors while Ethan Boyle saw his effort run the wrong side of the far post after the break.

Yet Rovers were dealt a severe blow 15 minutes later when Bamba capitalised on the rash advance of goalkeeper Alan Mannus by slipping in between Lopes and Lee Grace and producing a cool finish to the empty net.

The hosts could well have been back on terms sooner had Opdal not been perfectly positioned to grab Graham Cummins header from a delightful Byrne cross.

The introduction of Dan Carr gave the Brann defence more to think about and it was from his pressure that the ball eventually fell to Finn.

The Rovers skipper duly threaded it through to Byrne who produced a sublime turn and strike over the oncoming Opdal to restore parity and edge Rovers back in front in the tie.

The stadium erupted and the Rovers fans were back on their feet 11 minutes later when O’Neill checked his advancing run to meet Byrne’s pass and fire it to the back of the net with the aid of a deflection.


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