Watch - Darren Dennehy's header secures St Pats progression in Europa League and €410k
A STERNER test awaits them next week in the second round but St Patrick’s Athletic were just relieved tonight to edge past Luxembourg opposition in the Europa League.
Leading 1-0 from the first leg, Liam Buckley’s side were pegged back to parity by Jeunes Esch in the first half.
Darren Dennehy’s precious away goal 17 minutes from the end proved decisive as a second from the hosts with three minutes left still left put the Dubliners through on the away goal rule.
Progression means St Pat’s are guaranteed a minimum €410,000 before they take on either Belarusian superpower Dinimo Minsk or FK Spartaks tomorrow week. Dinamo take a 2-1 lead into tomorrow’s second leg in Latvia.
“Either of those teams will be a step-up in quality what we faced here,” admitted Buckley last night.
“Dinamo Minsk are third in the Belarus league, just six points behind leaders BATE Borisov, and Spartaks are top of the Latvian league.
“Still, there is more to come from us. Hopefully, we’ll put in a reasonable performance away on Thursday week so we can something to hold onto ahead of the return game at Richmond Park.”
Buckley also confessed his side adopted too cautious an approach in the first-half last night, allowing the hosts to dictate the tempo and level the tie on aggregate.
Patrick Stumpf might have missed a sitter in Dublin, yet he was more clinical on home soil by beating Brendan Clarke with a 23rd-minute strike.
Emmanuel Hervé Lapierre nearly put Esch ahead shortly after the restart but Pat’s grabbed the next vital goal when Dennehy rose highest to meet Keith Treacy’s corner and head past Marc Oberweis despite the goalkeeper getting his hand on the effort.
Needing a couple of goals to overturn the tie, Esch surged forward in numbers and eventually made their pressure count when Stumpf was left alone to bury his second.
Buckley’s crew saw out the tie and can now start preparing for another trip next week, most likely further east to Belarus.
“The prize-money in Europe is very important for any League of Ireland club,” noted the Pat’s boss. “When you’re trying to negotiate new contracts with players and bring people in it just makes it that bit easier if you’ve gone through a round or two in Europe.”