Dundalk trail Bate Borisov after away leg but are still in the tie
Champions League qualifying: Second half goal undoes the Airtricity League champions
Dundalk’s Patrick McEleney competes for the ball against Bate Borisov on Tueday night in Belarus. Photograph: Inpho
Bate Borisov 1 Dundalk 0
Mikhail Gordeichuk’s second half strike gave the 12 time champions of Belarus a slender 1-0 win at the Borisov Arena on Tuesday night.
Dundalk were without Brian Gartland once again and they were on the back foot early on when Igor Stasevich fired over from 20 yards while Gartland’s replacement, Paddy Barrett, slipped to let Vitiali Rodionov in. However he recovered well and cleared the danger.
The opening 25 minutes were mostly dominated by the hosts. Barrett crashed the ball against his own crossbar on his six yard line, off a Maksim Zhavnerchik pass, while Rodionov again came so close to turning in a Stasevich’s cross.
Rodionov was the danger man in this spell and he forced a good block from Andy Boyle with his shot on the turn.
Just after the half hour mark, the Lilywhites conjured up their first opportunity when a clever breakaway from Daryl Horgan on the left took him past three Bate players. He interchanged passes with Robbie Benson who continued his run but his goal bound effort was well saved by Sergei Veremko in goal.
Stasevich then rounded McEleney with ease but with better options, he chose to shoot and it was straight at Rogers in goal.
The main talking point of the first half came when Bate’s Zhavnerchik was lucky to escape a red card when it looked like he led with his hand to Stephen O’Donnell - however the referee brandished just a yellow.
As the break approached, Dundalk were fortunate once more not to fall behind when they failed to deal with a ball from Stasevich and Aleksei Rios stabbed the ball goalwards - however Rogers somehow got down to make the save.
Bate controlled the opening stages of the second half and had two quick fire efforts on target from both Mirko Ivanic and Zhavnerchik but they were straight at Rogers.
Bate showed their strength in depth when they introduced a returning hero - former Arsenal star Aleksandr Hleb - with half an hour to go in a bid to unlock the door. He showed his class with some fine touches, and combining with another substitute Mikhail Gordeichuk, the hosts had a game-winning fresh impetus.
Minutes after his introduction Gordeichuk got the crucial lead goal. Hleb intercepted Gannon’s attempted ball forward and showed terrific composure to play in the running Gordeichuk who fired low at Rogers and the ball went in off the inside of the left post.
The goal gave the Belarusian champions freedom to sit back somewhat but they could have added to their tally in the final 10 minutes when the dangerous Stasevich forced a good save from Rogers on the left while Kaspars Dubra headed the ball off the crossbar from a corner with the goalkeeper beaten all ends up.
Horgan volleyed high and wide as he latched onto a Massey throw in the final minute of the 90 and that proved to be the final action of note. Down but not out though, the SSE Airtricity League winners’ dream of a group stage berth is still very much alive with the home leg to come.
BATE BORISOV: Sergei Veremenko; Maksim Zhavnerchik (Aleksandr Hleb 59), Kaspars Dubra, Denis Polyakov, Artur Pikk; Aleksei Rios, Aleksandr Karnitski (Aleksandr Volodko 88), Yuri Kendysh, Igor Stasevich; Mirko Ivanic (Mikhail Gordeichuk 68); Vitali Rodionov (capt)
DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Paddy Barrett, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Ronan Finn, Stephen O’Donnell (capt), Robbie Benson (John Mountney 46); Patrick McEleney (Chris Shields 46), David McMillan (Ciaran Kilduff 77), Daryl Horgan.
Referee: Yehven Aranovsky (Ukraine)