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Foster crushed as Dundalk hit for six

Dundalk's Europa League adventure is all but over after a humiliating 6-0 thrashing away to Bulgarian side Levski Sofia.

The club's last foray into European football ended in a 5-0 away defeat at the hands of Croatian side NK Varteks eight years ago, but last night they went one worse.

The Lilywhites simply did not have the class to deal with this experienced Levski outfit, who owned the ball for 90 minutes in a classy display. And things would have been a lot worse for Dundalk had the Bulgarians taken all of their chances.

A crestfallen Ian Foster said afterwards: "It was a huge step up in class and we just couldn't cope. I feel sorry for the players. They didn't deserve six, we put in a hard shift."

Peter Cherrie was a surprise inclusion in the visiting goal, returning to action having not played since before the mid-season break. Ciaran McGuigan started at centre-half, with Tom Miller operating in midfield.

The move didn't work, as the Lilywhites struggled from the off and found themselves 2-0 down within 14 minutes.

Cherrie made the error that led to the opening goal. Already under pressure from a series of corners, Cherrie flapped at Joaozinho's corner and the ball ran to Hristo Yoyov who swept it home.

It got worse minutes later as the Bulgarians' passing verve cut the visitors open down the left. Yoyov found Darko Tasevski in space and his weighted ball split the defence for Daniel Mladenov to score.

Cherrie superbly denied Vladimir Gadzhev and Tasevski twice in succession but French striker Garra Dembele made it three four minutes before half-time, playing a neat one-two with Tasevski before scoring with a rising drive.

Just 48 seconds of the second half had elapsed when Levski grabbed a fourth as Garry Breen's sliced clearance went straight to Tasevski who found Mladenov in the box and he chipped the ball over Cherrie.

Cherrie twice brilliantly denied Dembele, but the floodgates finally opened late on as sub Ismail Isa grabbed a late double. With five minutes remaining he headed home a Veselin Minev cross, before he capitalised on a loose ball to make it six.