Tuesday 20 February 2018

Explained: Here's why Zenit St Petersburg's win tonight is great news for Dundalk's Europa League hopes

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has led his side to great success Photo: Sportsfile
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has led his side to great success Photo: Sportsfile

We are hours away from Dundalk's crucial home Europa League tie with AZ Alkmaar but the Airtricity League champions have already been given a boost in their quest to qualify for the knockout stages.

Runaway group leaders Zenit St Petersburg, who beat Dundalk home and away, have dispatched Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-0 at home to keep Dundalk in second spot in Group D ahead of their game tonight.

As it stands, Stephen Kenny's side have four points, and a goal difference of -1, while Maccabi Tel Aviv trail them on four points, but with a goal difference of -3.

AZ are bottom with two points and a -6 goal difference at the moment.

As it stands, a 0-0 or 1-1 draw with Alkmaar tonight and a point in Israel in their final game would be enough to see Dundalk into the knockout stages of the Europa League, which would be a sensational achievement for the League of Ireland club.

The first tiebreaker in the event of two teams finishing level in the group is whoever got more points across the two games. Since Dundalk drew 1-1 with Alkmaar away, either of the aforementioned scorelines would give Dundalk the edge in a tiebreak.

However, Kenny will be targeting all three points against the travelling Dutch side at Tallaght Stadium tonight, a fixture that needs to be negotiated before thoughts can turn to booking a place in the next round.

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