Rory Gaffney strikes twice as Shamrock Rovers cruise through

Irish champions made light work of Teuta Durres in the Europa Conference League

Shamrock Rovers’ Ronan Finn comes up against Jackson Ferreira Silvério of Teuta during their Europa Conference League qualifier. Photo: Dejan Lopicic/Inpho

Shamrock Rovers’ Ronan Finn comes up against Jackson Ferreira Silvério of Teuta during their Europa Conference League qualifier. Photo: Dejan Lopicic/Inpho

 

Teuta Durres 0 Shamrock Rovers 2 (Shamrock Rovers win 3-0 on aggregate)

Assisted on the double by Liam Scales, Rory Gaffney scored two sublimely taken goals as Shamrock Rovers eased through to the playoff round of the Europa Conference League in the heat of Albania.

Stephen Bradley’s side now play Flora Tallinn in the playoff round with the first leg in Estonia next week.

Progression thus far guarantees the League of Ireland champions around €1.5 million in Uefa prize money with a minimum €2.9 million awaiting should they beat Flora and make the group stages.

A goal up from a dominant home leg, Rovers pressed from the off at the Elbasan Arena, Dylan Watts’ touch just letting him down from a Danny Mandroiu quickly taken free kick as he looked to be in on goal.

As expected, Teuta tried to play on the front foot as they chased the 1-0 first leg deficit.

Rovers, well-organised with a good shape to them, dealt ably with the home side’s initial threat before creating the game’s first opening on 10 minutes.

A Scales header across goal from Watts’s deep cross was nodded straight to Mandroiu who volleyed wide.

Mandroiu then dribbled skilfully through midfield but just over-hit the pass for the run of Richie Towell before Rovers survived a right let off on 16 minutes.

A terrific ball from Sherif Kallaku picked out striker Tauljant Sulejmanov whose composure deserted him as he blazed wastefully over the top.

Remaining the better side, though, Rovers were inches from the lead on 19 minutes when a back pass from Albano Aleksi, under pressure from Gaffney, rolled against the far post before being cleared.

A minute later, Rovers were deservedly in front.

Gaffney cleverly spun the sluggish Aleksi from Scales’ ball down the left. And the big striker advanced to cheekily dink his effort over goalkeeper Stivi Frasheri to open his European account.

Though showing more urgency to their game, Teuta’s lack of quality in the final third was evident again as Asion Daja missed his kick in front of goal following good build-up play.

Rovers then thought they had doubled their lead on 40 minutes only for Mandroiu’s header to be ruled out for a foul on Frasheri.

Though Rovers started the second half aggressively, Teuta grow in confidence to enjoy their best spell of the tie.

Emilian Vila headed over while Lee Grace made a brave block to a goal bound shot from Kallaku following good approach play.

It mattered not as Rovers all but killed off the tie on 62 minutes with another wonderful goal.

Scales was again central to the attack down the left, working a one-two to brilliantly slip Gaffney through.

Once again, the Hoops striker was calmness personified as he ran on to pick his spot to side-foot to the far corner of the net.

KF Teuta Durrës: Frasheri; Todorovski (Beqja, 82), Aleksi, Arapi, Jackson (Kotobelli, 69); Daja, Karabeci (Gruda, 69); Vila, Kallaku, Plaku (Zogaj, 74); Sulejmanov (Gerogiev, 69).

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; O’Brien (Hoare, 77), Lopes, Grace; Finn (Gannon, 69), O’Neill, Watts (McCann, 78), Scales; Towell (Burke, 59), Gaffney (Greene, 69), Mandroiu.

Referee: Petri Viljanen (Finland).

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