Shamrock Rovers cruise past Progres Niederkorn

Rovers looked comfortable as they advanced to the next round of the Europa League

Shamrock Rovers 3- 0 Progres Niederkorn

Niederkorn skipper Ismael Bouzid had maintained on Monday that even if his side lost this game they would learn from the European experience. Well, they have at least a year to reflect on just where and how badly it went wrong in Tallaght. For Rovers, time is rather tighter with Pat Felon's side needing to improve significantly despite the apparently impressive margin of victory if they are stand much of a chance against what will almost certainly be Norwegian opposition in next week's second round.

A goal from David Webster and a Kieran Marty Waters brace will certainly help to generate a bit of confidence as they look forward to what seems sure to be a tougher challenge but the clean sheet really shouldn't be taken as an indication of strength in that department and they will surely have to be much better at the back if they harbour serious hopes of going any further.

The Dubliners generally looked comfortable enough by the end with their third goal just short of an hour draining their opponents of any real hope but they had been greatly flattered by the 2-0 lead they held at half-time with the Luxembourgers looking technically better and much more creative when running at a Rovers defence that repeatedly lacked composure.


Fenlon had said the weather might well be a factor in this second leg with Rovers likely revel somewhat in the cooler conditions but as it turned out it was the rain that seemed to contribute most to Niederkorn’s undoing early on.

The visitors may have had by far the better of things in terms of chances created through the opening half but their control repeatedly let them down at key moments with the locals let off the hook at the back more than once and pretty much gifted two goals.

Rovers, through those early stages, only really posed any sort of threat from set pieces but when a free by Waters was only partially cleared they profited from a mishap of their own with Brandon Miele’s badly sliced shot running straight to David Webster who stole a yard on his marker and coolly side-footed home his first goal since joining the club from Bray.

The second was even worse from a Niederkorn point of view with Simon Madden's angled cross from the right looking harmless enough until goalkeeper Sebastian Flauss allowed it to slip out of his hands and Waters reacted quickest, crouching low to head the ball into an empty net.

On the sidelines, the visiting coach, Paolo Amodio, could be seen pacing around his technical area shaking his head in disbelief and it wasn't hard to imagine why. His side had consistently looked the more menacing of the two from play with Olivier Cassan and, more than once, Giuseppe Rossini both having very good chances to beat Craig Hyland.

At that stage, the Rovers back four, missing Conor Kenna, looked terribly uncertain whenever it was put on the back foot and Hyland was a little fortunate to emerge with the ball when Cassan received it in space but bungled his attempt under pressure to back into the goalkeeper then turn and shoot.

Niederkorn clearly could have done with one of those chances having been converted because by the break they were clearly facing an uphill task. Rovers, predictably, started to play with a little more confidence after the break and the goal that effectively sealed their place in the next round, almost certainly against Odds BK with the order of the games dependent on how St Patrick's do against Skonto Riga on Thursday, was a lot more impressive than either of their first two.

Madden started the move down the right but it was the speed with which Rovers then moved the ball across the pitch 25 yards out that left the visitors struggling with Patrick Cregg and Mikey Drennan both involved before Waters drove powered home his second of the night, and sixth in six games, from beyond the far post.

From there they might have been expected to push on and maybe grab another one or two but Drennan passed up a great chance to make it 4-0 when sent clean through on Flauss while Rossini produced an almost unbelievable miss in the closing stages after Tim Clancy’s hapless attempt to cut out a straightforward cross from the left.

The win, of course, will be welcome for the prize money it brings but the performance will hardly have sent Damien Duff’s family, who were here, back with glowing reports to the former international and it promises to be a busy few days for Fenlon on the training ground.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times