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Miserable night for Dundalk as Champions League campaign ends after just 90 minutes with defeat in Hungary

NK Celje 3 Dundalk 0

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Luka Kerin (left) celebrates after scoring the first goal in NK Celja's 3-0 win over Dundalk in the Champions League qualifiers. Photo by Vid Ponikvar/Sportsfile

Luka Kerin (left) celebrates after scoring the first goal in NK Celja's 3-0 win over Dundalk in the Champions League qualifiers. Photo by Vid Ponikvar/Sportsfile

Luka Kerin (left) celebrates after scoring the first goal in NK Celja's 3-0 win over Dundalk in the Champions League qualifiers. Photo by Vid Ponikvar/Sportsfile

Dundalk endured another night of deep frustration in Europe as their Champions League campaign ended after just 90 minutes with a 3-0 defeat to Slovenian side NK Celje.

Dundalk's mistakes were punished and their own opportunities wasted on a disappointing night for the Premier Division champions.

A mix-up at the back between keeper Gary Rogers and defender Brian Gartland gifted Celje the opening they needed for their 42nd minute opening goal and while Dundalk had chances, notably when Pat Hoban hit the post with a header seven minutes from time, they were unable to make them count in what was their fifth successive European game away from home without a goal scored.

A second goal from Dario Vizinger two minutes from time was more punishment, a third in added time from sub Filip Dangubic the coup de grace from Celje, who now advance to a game at home to Norwegian champions Molde next week, while Dundalk drop into the Europa League via the back door, their second round tie to be played next month.

Dundalk will see this tie as one that got away, the Irish champions in control for spells against the first-time entrants to the Champions League but not able to make it count and they were punished in the end.

It was a shaky start for Dundalk, playing in Hungary for the first time in 29 years, as they struggled to find their feet in the opening stages, and there was a worry when defender Sean Gannon was booked as early as the third minute, for a foul on Mitja Lotric.

But they coped with the possession that Celje had and began to press forward, finding some good positions in the wide open spaces of the Hungarian venue. They came close to scoring on 18 minutes when Brian Gartland got his head to a corner from Stefan Colovic, that chance a scare for the Slovenian side.

Dundalk were still in the tie until just before half time when Celje took the lead, Luka Kerin pouncing after Gartland and Rogers got their wires crossed.

Pat Hoban had the ball in the net on 52 minutes but it was disallowed for a foul, and Michael Duffy and Darragh Leahy also had chances which went wide.

Hoban went close, hitting the woodwork on 83 minutes but the Louth club were left wide open when Croatian striker Vizinger tapped into an empty net, with a third goal coming in added time when sub Dangubic was quickest to react to pounce on a rebound after a Rogers save.

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