Karl Sheppard penalty miss sums up disastrous night for Cork City
Cork City 0 Progrés Niederkorn 2
Cork City’s hopes of progressing to the second qualifying round of the Europa League are all but over after the concession of two first-half goals took the wind out of their sails at Turner’s Cross.
Belmin Muratovic’s effort and a Mayron De Almeida penalty was enough to see Progrés take a significant lead into the second leg in Luxembourg next Thursday.
John Cotter spoke in the build-up about the need to take the game to their opponents right from the first whistle and his players carried out his instructions as they pressed high up the pitch from the off.
But with 11 minutes on the clock disaster struck as they fell behind following a mistake from right full-back Colm Horgan.
Horgan, who was making his first appearance for the club in European competition, showed his inexperience as he was dispossessed by Muratovic who composed himself before drilling the ball past a helpless Mark McNulty at his near post.
City, and the majority of the 3,137 crowd in attendance, were stunned but they felt they should have had the opportunity to level things soon after but after Joel Coustrain went down inside the penalty box, the referee waved away their strong appeals.
The Leesiders’ misery was compounded moments later when Niederkorn were given a penalty of their own as Horgan brought down the lively De Almeida and the attacker emphatically fired the ball into the top left corner of the net.
Cork were handed a lifeline midway through the first period when Latvian referee Aleksandrs Anufrijevs again pointed to the spot following a foul on Conor McCarthy inside the area.
But Karl Sheppard failed to place the ball home from 12 yards as his strike down the middle was turned over the crossbar by the outstretched leg of goalkeeper Sebastian Flauss.
The atmosphere around the ground was now flat although McCarthy and Gearóid Morrissey did go close to sparking it into life before the break, neither could beat the ’keeper with their efforts.
Ronan Hurley sliced a volley well wide of the target for what was their best opening in the second 45 as Progres comfortably held on to their significant lead.
CORK CITY – McNulty; McCarthy, Casey, McLoughlin; Horgan (O’Sullivan 24), Morrissey, McCormack, Buckley (Boylan 61), Hurley; Coustrain (Crowley 80), Sheppard.
PROGRÉS NIEDERKORN – Flauss; Laterza, Skenderovic, Hall, Karayer; Vogel; Muratovic (Mmaee 70), Silaj, Thill (Ferino 85), Mayron De Almedia; Kempes Waldemar Tekiela (Yann Marques 93).
REF – A Anufrijevs (Latvia)