Sean Gannon and Dundalk ‘very positive’ after Riga stalemate

Defender says onus will be on Latvian side in the second leg

Sean Gannon sees a cross blocked during Dundalk’s goalless draw with Riga. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Sean Gannon sees a cross blocked during Dundalk’s goalless draw with Riga. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Sean Gannon insists that the Dundalk players are “very positive” about their prospects of progressing to the second qualifying round of the Champions League despite having been held at home by Latvian champions, Riga, in Wednesday night’s first leg.

Vinny Perth’s side enjoyed the majority of the game’s possession and created the bulk of its scoring opportunities, but they struggled to actually test goalkeeper Roberts Ozols on a night when the visitors defended well and might actually have nicked an away win.

“We knew what they were going to do,” says the 28-year-old Dubliner whose runs down the right hand side posed a persistent threat for the hosts. “Obviously it’s a European style for a team playing away from home to look to make it difficult for you by sitting in.

“I thought we used the ball well enough. Probably on another night we would have created a few more chances but it is still all to play for. We are a good side with a great away record in Europe so we are going over there very positive, we are confident. That’s the way it is.”

Gannon acknowledged that some of the team’s play in the final third was not quite what they would have hoped but he is, he says, confident that Dundalk can do better in the second leg with the Latvians under a little more pressure to come out and play.

“With a bigger pitch they’ll probably have to come out a bit more,” he says. “I think that they will probably open up a bit more which would give us a bit more space over there and we have players who can really hurt teams when they have space so I think it’s all to play for still.

“I think there are improvements that can be made, there always are but we are going over there with the score nil all and if we score over there then the tie changes.

“We have great attacking players who have shown that they are well capable of scoring away from home in Europe so there is a lot of positivity in the dressing room. We’ve drawn nil all at home but we go over there positive, we have seen what they are like, we have played against them now and so we go and try to win over there next week.

“They’ll be the home team, the onus will be more on them. But there are no excuses here. They came here with a game-plan, they’ll have one next week and we’ll be going over there with one; we are not just putting things down to them having sat in. We created a number of chances and on another night they’d have gone in but it’s all positive going into the second leg.”

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