Cork City right behind the eight ball after conceding away goal
A late AEK Larnaca goal gave the Cypriot side a 1-0 first leg win over John Caulfield’s side
Joan Truyols of AEK Larnaca celebrates scoring the opening goal against Cork City in their Europa League second round qualifier first leg. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Cork City 0 AEK Larnaca 1
Cork City suffered their first defeat of 2017 as a 26-game run stretching back to last October came to an end when Joan Truyols’ 70th-minute gave AEK Larnaca victory at Turner’s Cross.
As the home side pressed in injury time, it seemed as if Seán Maguire – like Kevin O’Connor, playing his last home game before moving to Preston North End – would sign off in fairytale style as he made a surging run into the area. Daniel Mojsov slid in to tackle but Maguire opted to remain on his feet and his shot was blocked. Though Cork applied late pressure, an equaliser couldn’t be found.
While Larnaca weren’t markedly better, they were more efficient. They began with intent as Ivan Trickovski fired an early shot wide and then, in the fifth minute, Trickovski’s pass played in striker Florian Taulemesse. He was able to get his shot away but City goalkeeper Mark McNulty saved well, albeit at the expense of a corner.
Beyond that early burst though, the Cypriot side didn’t threaten much in the final third, with much of their possession in their own half as they passed the ball a lot but City sat back and tried to counter.
Just before the quarter-hour, they almost had a chance as Maguire whipped over a cross from the right but Larnaca right-back Joan Truyols got his head to the ball before Garry Buckley could get on the end of it.
Soon after that, Maguire – watched by his new Preston manager Alex Neil – weaved his way into the area but Mojsov’s challenge meant that a corner was all Larnaca conceded.
More corners followed but nothing came from them and, at the other end, Jorge Larena tested McNulty who parried initially before claiming the ball, with Taulemesse’s late challenge meaning he required treatment.
On 29 minutes Taulemesse almost met Hevel’s cross, while as the half ended Conor McCormack had to be alert to clear when Taulemesse tried to release Trickovski.
The early stages of the second half were almost entirely without incident. Larnaca slowed things down, especially with dead balls, while City lacked the spark to get in behind and properly test goalkeeper Juan Pablo.
After the halfway mark, Larnaca felt that they might have had a penalty. When Vincent Laban passed to Hevel, his dangerous cross was destined for Taulemesse, but McCormack’s heavy-duty challenge prevented him from making contact. Even still, the ball might have crept in but for Steven Beattie to clear for a corner on the goal line.
From Hevel’s delivery, a scramble ensued and it was Truyols who had the decisive touch, side-footting past McNulty from 10 yards.
Thereafter, City tried to force matters as they made substitutions, but they couldn’t pierce the Larnaca rearguard. A tough mission awaits next Thursday in Cyprus.
CORK CITY: McNulty; Beattie, McCormack, Delany, O’Connor; Morrissey, Bolger (Campion 75); Sheppard (Griffin 78), Buckley, Dooley (Sadlier 62); Maguire.
AEK LARNACA: Juan Pablo; Truyols, Mojsov, Catala, Antoniades; Larena (Roushias 90), Laban; Hevel, Trickovski (Boljevic 84), Tomas (Tete 76); Taulemesse.
Referee: François Letexier (France).