Ferencváros 4 Shamrock Rovers 0
Shamrock Rovers’ Europa League group stage hopes appear all but over as they had no answer to the slick, attacking threat of Hungarian champions Ferencváros at the Groupama Arena in Budapest.
For all a depleted Rovers’ honest endeavour, on the evidence of this with next week’s second leg in Tallaght to come, their autumn in Europe is now almost certainly set for the far from inconsiderable cushion of group stage football in the Europa Conference League.
Missing six players through suspension, injury and illness, Rovers manager Stephen Bradley made two changes from the side that drew at Derry City last Friday, with four academy players aged 18 or under named among their substitutes.
No such issues for Ferencváros who started seven full internationals in the 36 degree heat as they pressed from the start, forcing two early corners which delivered nothing.
But it wasn’t long before the League of Ireland champions survived a let off as they gave the ball away cheaply in an attempt to clear.
Moroccan Ryan Nmaee found a pocket of space to rifle a shot from the edge of the area Rovers were relieved to see come back off a post.
Rovers threatened for the first time minutes later when Ferencvaros gave away possession. Rory Gaffney fed fellow striker Aaron Greene who was fouled by Muhamed Besic. Dylan Watts’ resulting free kick lacked any power to trouble home goalkeeper Denes Dibusz.
Ferencváros responded clinically, putting Rovers on the back foot with the lively Tokmac Nugen winning a third corner off Andy Lyons from which they took a 13th minute lead.
Played short, the ball was recycled out right from where Aissa Laidouni’s cross wasn’t dealt with by either Dan Cleary and skipper for the night Lee Grace, under pressure from Mats Knoester.
The Dutchman got the vital touch to set up Carlos Auzqui who squeezed his sidefooted effort past Alan Mannus at his near post.
Rovers then stood off a little too loosely to allow the clever feet of Nmaee to get off a shot that was comfortably dealt with by Mannus as the home side, roared on by a raucous support, began to really stretch the visitors.
Enjoying their first spell of good possession midway through the half, Rovers worked a promising opening down the left through Gary O’Neill and Lyons, the cross from the latter having just too much pace on it for Greene arriving at the near post.
It mattered not as poor defending was clinically punished at the other end as the home side doubled their lead on 34 minutes.
A minute earlier, Watts lost the ball to gift Nmaee a free run and shot off Mannus’ opposite post.
Rovers were then exposed as danger man Nmaee cleverly slipped off the shoulder of the too static Sean Hoare on to Laidouni’s pass in behind. The ball was rolled across goal to give Adama Traore a simple tap-in.
With Rovers ragged at the back, delightful play might have added to that three minutes later; Nmaee playing a one-two with Lorand Paszka to fail in the finish as he shot tamely at Mannus.
Hopes of some sort of a second half revival from Rovers were dashed within three minutes when calamitous defending gave Ferencváros a gift of a third goal.
A hopeful punt down field exposed Rovers all too easily as Nmaee set up Nugen to bring a parry save from Mannus.
Though the danger remained, it should have been dealt with as Sean Gannon’s miscued clearance went straight to Traore to give the Mali international a simple close-range finish.
There was little let up as Rovers were run ragged again on 57 minutes, the albeit impressive Mannus depriving Nmaee after Laudoini and Nugen carved them open.
Nmaee was there again to sky over the top with the goal at his mercy from Traore’s cross.
Jack Byrne, Richie Towell and Neil Farrugia were introduced by Bradley with half an hour to play in the hope of retrieving something to offer hope for the return.
It never materialised as Ferencváros always looked capable of adding to their winning margin.
That they did in the third minute of added time.
Mannus initially made a superb tip-over save from Franck Boli’s shot.
Xavier Mercier’s corner was delivered to the far edge of the area where fellow substitute Elder Civic’s bouncing volley found the corner of the net.
Ferencváros: Dibusz; Wingo, Bokta, Knoester, Paszka (Civic, 84); Besic (Vecsei, 70), Laidouni; Auzqui (Marquinhos, 63), Nguen, Traore (Mercier, 84); Nmaee (Boli, 63).
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Hoare, Cleary, Grace; Gannon (Towell, 61), Watts (Ferizaj, 70), O’Neill, Kavanagh (Farrugia, 61), Lyons; Gaffney (Byrne, 61), Greene (Tetteh, 79).
Referee: Glenn Nyberg (Sweden).