ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC completed a stunning comeback to topple IBV Vestmannaeyjar on a famous European night in Inchicore.
First-half goals from Ian Daly and Derek Doyle, secured through a combination of good set-piece play and kamikaze goalkeeping, were enough to see the Saints through to the second qualifying round of the Europa League.
Pats were almost left to rue a spate of second-half misses when IBV had two massive chances to steal the tie in second-half injury time, but the Saints held on.
Beaming with pride, Pete Mahon will have to prepare his players for a journey into the unknown when they continue their European odyssey in Kazakhstan to play Karagandy.
"We're looking at a busy day trying to organise it all alright," said Mahon after a win that stretched to eight their unbeaten run in European games at their Inchicore home, "but we wanted to stay in the competition and I'm very proud of my players tonight.
"It's looking likely to be three flights each way and the game against Bohemians next week will probably be called off because we mightn't get back until the Saturday, but we'll deal with it. People talk about Kazakhstan but we don't care -- we'd have gone to Timbuktu if we'd had to."
The game started brightly with both sides settling into their passing rhythm from the outset.
Pete Mahon had stressed the dangers IBV could cause on the counterattack and they illustrated their threat with a sweeping move from the back which ended with a shot by Thórarinn Valdimarsson from the right, but Gary Rogers was equal to it. Pats gradually got a foothold in the game with Shane McFaul and Stephen Bradley imposing themselves in midfield.
The Inchicore outfit broke the deadlock and levelled the tie on aggregate after a Bradley free kick from the left fell to Daryl Kavanagh who produced a cross that was fumbled by shaky Ugandan goalie Abel Dhaira and Daly was on hand to volley home.
With nine minutes to go to the interval, Pats seized control of the game when they doubled their lead on the night. Bradley crossed after Danny North was fouled in the corner, North flicked the ball on to the back post, Evan MacMillan headed the ball back across goal where Doyle was on hand to nod home from three yards. That goal sparked the Icelandic outfit into action and Andri Olafsson shot straight at Rogers before a good move down the right saw Ian Jeffs square the ball for Tryggvi Gudmundsson all alone in the Pats box but he blazed his shot wide with Gary Rogers rooted to the spot.
The second period started in a nervous fashion for both sides but Pete Mahon's charges began to assume control. IBV had been restricted to long range efforts for most of the second half but almost broke Saints hearts when they created two great chances in the three minutes of second-half injury time.