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Battling Drogheda claim fine Malmo draw

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Drogheda United's Gavin Brennan in action against Jiloan Hamad of Malmo FF.  Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Drogheda United's Gavin Brennan in action against Jiloan Hamad of Malmo FF. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Drogheda United's Gavin Brennan in action against Jiloan Hamad of Malmo FF. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

DROGHEDA UNITED boosted their chances of reaching the third qualifying round in the Europa League after holding Malmo to a scoreless draw in Tallaght Stadium last night.

Back in Europe for the first time in five years, Mick Cooke's side used fight and technique at key times to shackle their Swedish opponents, who struggled to create many chances.

Much to their credit, Drogheda, who set up in a 4-1-3-2 formation, matched their visitors in most departments even when midfielder Ryan Brennan was sent off for two yellow cards.

In fact, the Boynesiders could have snatched an unlikely win if Alan Byrne had hit the target with his header on 55 minutes. But, they achieved their target in this first leg of keeping a clean sheet.

Cooke knew that Malmo, who sit fourth in the Swedish top flight, would try to get a crucial away goal to give them an advantage in this tie, so holding them out was paramount in their gameplan.

Malmo did have their chances of getting that goal with Emil Forsberg, Markus Halsti and Tokelo Rantie all going close with the latter denied brilliantly late on by goalkeeper Gabriel Sava.

Any fear factor that they held going into the game disappeared early on as Drogheda discovered that they could stand up to their high-profile opponents and will fancy their chances in the second leg.

Pat Fenlon's Hibernian await the winners of this tie in the next round and it is all to play for going to Sweden for next Thursday's second leg.

For Cooke's troops, part one of their mission is complete.


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