Sport Soccer

Friday 19 January 2018

'It's Champions League all the way' for Lilywhites hero Horgan

"The Europa League is not coming into my mind," said the Galwegian (right). "It's Champions League all the way. We're two games away from it and we've knocked out a side that qualifies regularly. If we play like that two more times, we could easily be in the group stages."

After a 1-0 loss in the first leg in Belarus, Dundalk needed a composed display to turn things around and goals either side of half-time from the in-form Dave McMillan put them in control.

He has scored five goals in four Champions League starts this year and is now at the top of the all-time League of Ireland charts in Europe's main club tournament. Robbie Benson's late insurance strike prompted wild celebrations at Dundalk's temporary abode.

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill was present at the game and came into the Dundalk dressing room afterwards to pay tribute to Stephen Kenny's heroes. He singled out inspirational captain Stephen O'Donnell for special praise.

"He came in and said congratulations, he was very kind and very impressed with our game and rightly so," said Horgan.

"We played very well. He was especially congratulatory to Stevie - he was unbelievable. One of the best performances by a League of Ireland player in a European tie. He was absolutely incredible.

"We've outplayed a team that is a regular in the Champions League group stages. We went away last week and had a horror show. They were far better. We've come back and turned it around."

An emotional Kenny showered praise on his players after gaining revenge on the side that knocked them out 12 months ago.

"It's a brilliant performance and incredible night for Dundalk Football Club," said the Dubliner who oversaw a victory over BATE as Bohs boss in 2004 before they turned in to a serious force.

"We got a bit of a chasing in Belarus but tonight we saw a brilliant football performance by players who believe in themselves and did their talents full justice."

Dundalk will learn their next opponents on Friday. Possible opponents include APOEL Nicosia, Victoria Plzen and Celtic if they progress past Astana tonight.

Meanwhile, Bohemians have agreed a fee with Tunisian side L'Esperance Sportive de Tunis for the sale of midfielder Ayman Ben Mohamed.

The 21-year-old joined the Gypsies at the start of this season after stints with UCD and Longford Town.

His father, Lofti, is from Tunis and there were calls to bring him into their international set-up.

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Irish Independent

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