Dundalk shock BATE to earn Champions League play-off spot
Published 02/08/2016 | 22:31
Ireland's Dundalk progressed to the Champions League's play-off stages after a 3-1 aggregate defeat of BATE Borisov - securing European group-stage football this season.
The Airtricity League champions had lost the first-leg 1-0 but overcame the deficit against their Belarusian opponents through a goal in either half from David McMillan and a late third from substitute Robert Benson.
Stephen Kenny's side go into contention to face Manchester City, Porto, Villarreal, Roma and others for a place in the group stages and have the safety net of playing in the Europa League even if they are eliminated at the next stage.
McMillan's first goal came in the 44th minute following fine play on the left wing from Daryl Horgan. Retaining possession under pressure from three defenders, Horgan found space to send a fine cross towards McMillan from which he jumped to head into the top corner.
The 27-year-old's second, in the 58th minute, was equally impressive but came amid Borisov's poor defending. Their lack of pressure allowed Dane Massey to collect the loose ball inside the area and chip towards the unchallenged McMillan, who sent a diving header into the back of the net.
Instead of defending their lead, Dundalk instead pursued a third goal. It came in the last minute when Benson, who replaced McMillan in the 78th minute, broke through on goal and showed his composure to calmly finish beyond goalkeeper Sergei Veremko.
Victory represents one of the finest achievements of any Irish team, and will earn them a reported cash windfall of £5.89million.