Cork head east needing to score to stay in Champions League

John Caulfield’s side battled hard to restrict Legia in their qualifier

Legia Warszawa’s Michal Kucharczyk celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game during their Champions League qualifying encounter with Cork City. Photo: Donall Farmer/PA Wire

Legia Warszawa’s Michal Kucharczyk celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game during their Champions League qualifying encounter with Cork City. Photo: Donall Farmer/PA Wire

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Cork City 0 Legia Warsaw 1

Cork City face an uphill task if they are to progress beyond the first qualifying round for the Champions League as they went down to a late strike against Legia Warsaw at Turner’s Cross on Tuesday night.

The league champions had played very well for much of the game and the game was still scoreless when Legia won a free kick just inside the City half in the 79th minute. While the expectation was that Krzystof Maczynski would deliver the ball towards the penalty area, he rolled it across to left wing back Michal Kucharczyk, who launched a perfect shot to the top left-hand corner of Peter Cherrie’s net.

Unfortunately for John Caulfield’s side, late pressure couldn’t yield any equalising chances of real quality and they go to Poland for next week’s second leg needing at least a goal to avoid dropping into the Europa League.

The Rebel Army can be proud of their performance, but they will know that there were chances which could have been taken. The first of these fell to Barry McNamee in the game’s nascent stages as he intercepted a Mateusz Wieteska pass but he couldn’t get a clean contact on his shot and William Remy got across to concede a corner.

As the first half wore on, Legia began to create more. Sebastia Szymanski went close with a free kick and then should have done better from Mark Vesovic’s cross, shooting over after City had failed to clear.

Nevertheless, City were still well in it as the second half started and from a corner Damien Delaney – making his first competitive start since re-joining – and Conor McCarthy both went close.

Injuries to Gearóid Morrissey and McCarthy forced City into changes, with Graham Cummins and Steven Beattie their respective replacements. Cummins was given a glorious chance soon after his introduction as a McNamee header put him in but he couldn’t set himself and Arkadiusz Malarz saved.

While Legia were being restricted by and large to efforts from distance, they were upping the ante and sub Dominik Nagy tested Cherrie soon after his arrival into the game.

On 79 minutes, that pressure told as Kucharczyk broke the deadlock. While City brought on Kieran Sadlier as they sought an equaliser, the visitors were able to see out the game effectively and they will be resounding favourites to finish the job next week in Poland.

CORK CITY: Cherrie; McCarthy (Beattie 60), Delaney, McLoughlin, Griffin; McCormack, Morrissey (Cummins 52); Keohane, Buckley, McNamee (Sadlier 82); Sheppard.

LEGIA WARSAW: Malarz; Remy, Astiz, Wieteska; Vesovic, Maczynski, Cafu, Szymanski (Nagy 76), Kucharczyk; Kante (Hlousek 76), Hamalainen (Kulenovic 82).

Referee: RM Petrescu (Romania).

Attendance: 5,795.

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