Rovers sent crashing out of Europe
FK Ekranus 2 Shamrock Rovers 1(Ekranus win 2-1 on aggregate): In contrast to last season, where an unprecedented place in the Europa League group stages showed just what can be achieved on the continent, Shamrock Rovers European campaign was brought to a shuddering halt before the end of July tonight.
The Airtricity League champions were second best in their Champions League qualifier with Ekranus, losing 2-1 in Lithuania. Again, it was a lack of cutting edge up front, coupled with defensive lapses, that cost Stephen Kenny’s misfiring side and they can have few complaints as they begin the long journey home.
Ekranus caused problems from the opening whistle, but after weathering the early storm Rovers began to enjoy some possession of their own, albeit without causing any real problems. And the visitors were caught with a sucker punch right on the stroke of half-time, as Marko Andjelković’s deft header evaded Oscar Jansson in the Rovers goal.
While he may have been disappointed not to get a glove on it, Jansson will have been equally upset with his defence who were far from touch tight as Ekranus worked the goalscoring position.
And Rovers challenge lasted just 15 minutes into the second half as Ekranus drilled home a second to seal the tie. Again, the Rovers defence could have done better but there was little the keeper could have done to keep out Zilvinas Kymantas’s low shot into the corner.
Jansson did brilliantly to stop Vytautas Luksa adding a third, scooping the ball away from the winger when he slipped the offside trap, and while Rovers didn’t give up the ghost, Emilljus Zubas in the Ekranus goal didn’t have a single save to make until he picked out an injury time penalty from Gary McCable after Varnus was deemed to have handled.