Rovers defeated by Gent in Conference League group stages
Shamrock Rover goalkeeper Alan Mannus (file image)

Rovers defeated by Gent in Conference League group stages

Shamrock Rovers suffered a 3-0 defeat to Belgian outfit Gent in a UEFA Europa Conference League Group F encounter at Ghelamco Arena this evening.

Having shared the spoils with Djurgardens of Sweden in the opening game of the group at Tallaght Stadium last week, the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division leaders now find themselves at the foot of the table ahead of their away clash against Molde on October 6.

Seeking to become the first Irish club to win a European group stage game on foreign soil, Rovers suffered the worst possible start to this contest.

There were nine minutes on the clock when Hugo Cuypers got the ball at his feet inside the penalty area and the Liège native made no mistake with a crisp finish into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

While this deadlock-breaker arrived at the tail end of a fine move by the hosts, Gent’s second goal on 18 minutes was a self-inflicted error from Rovers.

After receiving a short kick-out from goalkeeper Alan Mannus, Daniel Cleary slipped in possession close to his own goal.

The Drimnagh man subsequently blocked the initial Gent effort, but Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe was then on hand to double his side’s advantage by hammering home in superb fashion.

2-0 adrift at the break, Sean Kavanagh was introduced off the bench for Chris McCann as Rovers looked for a way back into contention.

There was certainly plenty of energy to the visitors in the second half with Rory Gaffney’s spectacular volley forcing a fine save from Gent netminder Paul Nardi.

Jack Byrne also fired marginally over the crossbar on 64 minutes, before Odjidja-Ofoe placed the outcome beyond doubt moments later with another outstanding goal.

Rovers did persevere with their challenge and Lee Grace was unfortunate not to head home a cross by Kilnamanagh’s Aaron Greene just past the third-quarter mark.

Nardi got himself into trouble when attempting to kick the ball out of play in the 73rd-minute, but he immediately bounced back with an excellent point-blank stop from Gaffney.

Although the precocious Justin Ferizaj also had a shot saved at a tight right-hand angle upon his introduction, Rovers’ search for a Group F goal ultimately continues.

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