Derry City 0 Dinamo Minsk 2
Derry City’s hopes of progressing in the Europa League were effectively ended at the Brandywell, Kenny Shiels’ side simply failing to match the quality of Belarusian representatives, Dinamo Minsk.
The visitors, who caught Derry cold when breaking the deadlock before 90 seconds had elapsed, basically strolled to a 2-0 victory thanks to Croatian defender Nino Galovic’s second minute strike and a killer 64th minute goal from Uladzimir Khvashchynsk.
If the truth be told, the Foyleside club rarely threatened on the night and if it wasn't for two top drawer saves from goalkeeper Ger Doherty, it could've been much worse for Shiels' troops.
Predictably, Shiels had no complaints, immediately conceding that the better team had claimed the spoils on the night.
“We can only learn from this experience,” he lamented. “I think we also learned a bit about ourselves as well.
“We’re still naive in terms of managing the game, but we just didn’t have the quality to lay a glove on them.
“Obviously they were a better team and we can’t deny that, as we didn’t hurt them in any shape or form.”
That said, he heaped praise on his players for their effort and he promised that Derry would “step it up” in the second leg in Eastern Europe next Thursday night.
“We’re travelling from Tuesday onwards for the second leg which is not ideal, but we will have to step it up. They have great quality which we will find hard to match, but we now know what we are up against and I’ve no doubt the players will do all in their power to get something from the game,” he concluded.
It was the first European tie at Brandywell since 2014 but it was a hugely disappointing for the home lot who also finished the game with 10 men following Conor McDermott’s late sending off for a second yellow card.
The Candystripes got off to the worst possible start as the Belarusians netted with less than two minutes on the clock.
Dan Seaborne conceded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area and Uros Nikolic's strike rebounded off Rory Hale in the defensive wall the ball was spread wide to Artsem Hurenka who crossed towards the back post where Galovic took a touch before rifling it home.
Derry were stunned and with their gameplan dismissed at such an early junture, the visitors began to control proceedings.
Dinamo came so close to doubling the advantage on 13 minutes. Hurenka crossed dangerously towards the back post where Uladzimir Khvashchynski’s close range header was denied by a fantastic save by Doherty.
Derry’s first effort on goal arrived on 18 minutes lifted the attendance as Jamie McDonagh crossed from the right and substitute, Ronan Hale’s overhead kick went just over the crossbar.
Five minutes before the break McDonagh made a crucial interception to deny Anton Saroka what would've been a certain goal when he latched onto a ball over the top of the City defence.
Derry actually made a promising start to the second half with McDermott bursting down the left flank before delivering a dangerous cross but Hale couldn’t get enough power into his header and the chance was lost.
Dinamo almost added a second goal in the 63rd minute. Khvashchynski squared the ball to Saroka and his shot on the turn saw the ball creep under the body of Doherty but the City skipper reacted quickly to stop the ball before it crossed the line.
But there was nothing Doherty could do to keep out Dinamo’s next effort as the Belarusians broke quickly and when Pilip Ivanou drew Doherty out of his goal, he found Khvashchynski who was left with an easy tap-in from 10 yards.
It went from bad to worse for City as McDermott was shown his second yellow card for clipping the heels of Uros outside the box with eight minutes on the clock.
Doherty again came to his side’s rescue on 86 minutes when he turned Saroka’s shot behind for a corner with a strong hand.
Derry City: Doherty: McDonagh, Cole, Seaborne, McDermott; Hale (Ronan Hale 6), Splaine; Fisk (Peers 78), McEneff, Shiels; Roy (Patterson 60).
Dinamo Minsk: Harbunou; Zhaunerchyk, Galovic, Chyzh, Shvetsou, Astraukh ( Behunou 77); Hurenka, Nikolic, Kaplenka (Ivanou 29), Yahaya; Khvashchynski (Salavei 66), Saroka.
Referee: Nikola Popov (Bulgaria).