'He planted one on me' - Dundalk hoping UEFA will investigate headbutt on Dane Massey
DUNDALK are set to request dispensation from UEFA to install temporary seating to boost the attendance for next Wednesday’s Champions League return with BATE Borisov and they are also hopeful that European football’s governing body will investigate a headbutt by their opponent’s best player.
The Louth club’s 2-1 defeat at the Borisov Arena last night sets up an intriguing decider in Oriel Park next Wednesday, but the attendance will be restricted to 3,200 due to UEFA’s all-seater restrictions. It is already sold-out.
Dundalk will ask via the FAI if it’s possible to install a structure with another 1,000 seats, citing the fact that Cliftonville were able to do so at Solitude when they landed Celtic in this competition two years ago. But the late request may make it difficult for the League of Ireland champions to secure approval.
Meanwhile, the headbutt incident involves BATE’s experienced international striker Vitali Rodionov, rated by the visitors as the most influential player fielded by the Champions League group stage regulars.
Rodionov was involved in an altercation with Dane Massey after BATE’s second goal, with the Dundalk defender revealing that he was shocked when the attacker headbutted him. The referee missed the incident, but there is video footage and the UEFA match delegate is aware of the matter which opens up the possibility of retrospective punishment and a suspension for the Irish trip.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Massey, “He just leaned in and planted one on me. I was a bit stunned at first.
“He was cute enough, though, as he held my back so I couldn’t go down. That’s what crossed my mind at first.
“I put my hand up to my head and there was blood - he cut me. I was raging and we went eyeball to eyeball then. I couldn’t believe he did it. His team-mates were off celebrating the goal and he was getting involved.
“I was shouting over to the linesman to see if he’d seen it but he hadn’t but I believe there might be video footage of it so we’ll see what happens.”
There was a bit of niggle in the second half of a game where it appeared that BATE were surprised by the quality of their visitors.
Their manager Aleksandr Yermakovich made the remarkable admission afterwards that they were expecting a team similar to Irish League side Glenavon who limply exited the Europa League in Belarus last week - even though he did send a coach to watch three Dundalk league matches. “They play football in a very professional way,” said Yermakovich.
Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny feels his team are capable of playing better, citing missed chances before the interval and some poor moments in possession during a scoreless second 45 where BATE were on top.
“Even though we lost 2-1, I’m coming home knowing that we can play better,” said Kenny, “That’s the thing about our performance.”
The fact that the tie is alive means Dundalk will be paying attention to tomorrow’s draw for the third round of qualifiers in Switzerland. They would take BATE’s seeding if they happened to advance, which means they would face a less daunting task at the next hurdle.