Sligo Rovers bow out of Champions League at hands of Molde
Irish side create some good chances but Norwegians go through
David Cawley has a chance on goal for Sligo Rovers during their Uefa Champions League second qualifying round second leg against Molde. Photograph: Svein Ove Ekornesvag/Inpho
After losing the first leg in Sligo last week, Rovers went into the game needing a goal, but were facing an uphill task once Molde doubled the aggregate advantage early on through Martin Linnes. A brilliant second goal by substitute Aliou Coly left Rovers down and out, despite the Bit O’ Red creating a number of decent chances.
Baraclough said: “I’m proud of what the players have done over the two legs. We didn’t wilt or give in. We tried to stick to the game plan against a very good team because we knew they would punish us if we lost our shape or discipline.
“We could have got a couple of goals on the night, even at the end with Danny North going through on a one-one-one, but it just wasn’t our night. But I think we acquitted ourselves really well.”
Molde manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer admitted Rovers should have had goals.
“I told Ian they should have been two or three up at half-time. We knew we were lucky not to concede two or three to be fair. We were better in the second half, however, and we scored a great second goal to kill the tie.”
Rovers made three personnel changes and one positional change from the first leg, as they went with a more attack-minded game plan.
Iarfhlaith Davoren suffered a recurrence of the hamstring strain he picked up in the first leg at training in Norway the night before and was ruled out.
Ross Gaynor switched to left full-back to deputise, while David McMillan switched flanks, allowing Kieran Djilali to return to the starting team.
Elsewhere, Alan Keane returned a full-back in place of Jeff Henderson, while David Cawley was given the nod over Lee Lynch in midfield. Danny North and Raffaele Cretaro returned from injury to line out among the substitutes.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer also made three changes, with centre back Even Hovland coming in along with midfielder Etzaz Hussain and striker Zlatko Tripic.
The home side targeted Rovers’ right-hand side early on, and, after the first leg’s goalscorer Daniel Chima Chukwu had an early opportunity thwarted by Gavin Peers, Molde broke through for the opener inside five minutes.
Full-back Martin Linnes got the goal, stabbing the ball low past Gary Rogers after breaking into the area and latching onto Zlatko Tripic’s pass.
Rovers’ response was hugely encouraging, as they won four corners in quick succession, after Molde centre-backs Hovland and Vegard Forren put in last-ditch blocks to deny David McMillan, Djilali and David Cawley. Unfortunately the Rovers set-piece deliveries were poor, and failed to put the Molde rearguard under any additional pressure.