Mura 0 St Patrick's Athletic 0 (Tie finishes 1-1 on aggregate, St Pat's win 6-5 on penalties)
The Saints go marching on to the Europa Conference League third-qualifying round after a dramatic penalty shootout victory against ten-men Mura.
Saints goalkeeper Joseph Anang was the hero, making a string of excellent saves before denying Mihael Klepac in the shootout. Tio Cipot blazed his penalty over in sudden death to hand St Pat’s victory.
Barry Cotter missed St Pat’s best chance of the evening, sending his header over in the first half. The hosts went down to ten on 70 minutes after Matic Marusko was shown a straight red for striking Chris Forrester.
Tim Clancy’s side will bank €300,000 for progressing to the third-qualifying round, with the first-leg on Thursday August 4. The Saints will meet Bulgaria’s CSKA Sofia, who defeated FK Makedonija Gjorče Petrov 4-0 on Thursday.
St Pat’s new signing Harry Brockbank was quite lucky not to give away a penalty early on for a poor challenge on Mirlind Daku. The FAI Cup holders soon settled in the 29c heat, as Kai Cipot’s superb block denied Eoin Doyle an opener, in front of 150 travelling fans.
The Saints should have taken the lead on 25 minutes as an uncontested Cotter sent his header over the crossbar from four yards. Tim Clancy’s side almost paid for the glaring miss immediately afterwards, as a mix-up by Tom Grivosti and Anang allowed Daku clean through, but the St Pat’s goalkeeper produced a stunning save.
The second half began in frantic fashion, as last week’s hero Forrester fired over. Immediately afterwards, Bobicanec skipped inside Brockbank but shot straight at Anang. The Inchicore side missed a great chance as Forrester slipped King in, but the Scot shot wide.
The hosts were reduced to ten on 70 minutes, as substitute Marusko was shown a straight red for striking Forrester. The St Pat’s midfielder initially made the contact and was booked, but the Slovenian was dismissed.
Substitute Thijs Timmermans shot wide after a clever knockdown by Doyle, before Joe Redmond blocked Daku at the death to force extra-time.
Five minutes after the restart, Anang saved well from a header, before Anto Breslin produced a stunning block on the St Pat’s line. Minutes later, the Saints goalkeeper made a world-class save to deny Klepac a certain goal. The Saints should have taken the lead on 100 minutes, but Serge Atakayi opted to shoot instead of putting it on a plate for Doyle. Brockbank denied Bobicanec with an excellent block to send the tie to penalties.
In the shootout, Doyle and Ronan Coughlan made no mistake, before Josip Majic smacked the crossbar. Barry Cotter failed to take advantage though, blazing his penalty over. Jason McClelland hit the net before Anang denied Klepac. Grivosti missed the chance to put the Saints through, as Timmermans, Atakayi and Redmond held their nerve in sudden-death. Cipot failed to convert his spot-kick, as the Saints progress to the third-round.
Mura - Obradovic; Beganovic, K Cipot, Kobie, Pucko (Majic 119); Bobicanec, Lorbek (Klepac 62); Kous (Sroler 85), Petkovic (T Cipot 62), Shabanhaxhaj (Marusko 62); Daku.
St Patrick’s Athletic - Anang; Brockbank, Redmond, Grivosti, Breslin; Cotter, O'Reilly (McClelland 115), Forrester (Coughlan 85), Lennon (Timmermans 61); King (Atakayi 68), E Doyle.
Ref: Urs Schnyder (Switzerland)