Tuesday 21 November 2017

Oman's strike proves cold comfort for Rovers

Rubin Kazan 4 Shamrock RVs 1

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

ANOTHER harsh experience for Shamrock Rovers, although the severity of the scoreline was born from erratic officiating rather than magic from a superior Rubin Kazan.

The League of Ireland champions competed well for long periods and were in with a squeak at the beginning of the second half. Alas, an offside strike and a further goal that should never have been awarded piled on the agony for Michael O'Neill's men.

It was -5C at kick-off and, initially, it was the hosts who suffered a brain freeze, with Cesar Navas needlessly conceding a corner under no pressure. The sloppiness gave encouragement to Rovers. Nevertheless, they still fell behind in the 10th minute. Ken Oman was easily turned in the box by Nelson Valdez, with the Paraguayan striker given too much time to pick his spot.

It was worrying for Rovers, but they responded magnificently. Ronan Finn was selected ahead of Stephen O'Donnell in midfield and justified his presence with a purposeful dash that caught Navas napping. A foul and a free in a dangerous area was the outcome. Right-winger Billy Dennehy stepped up to swirl a dangerous ball that Oman attacked, seeking atonement for his error. The header was crisp and accurate. 1-1.

They were in the game as well. They competed well for 20 minutes and twice squandered opportunities to grab the lead -- both through poor decisions.

First, Dennehy embarked on a powerful run that exposed the fact that Navas was on a booking -- he let the Rovers winger advance on goal but the Kerry native opted to shoot unconvincingly at Sergei Rzyhikov when Karl Sheppard was free; and the striker was equally furious when Finn opted to hold onto the ball rather than release his team-mate.

That proved costly as Rubin stepped it up a notch. Ryan Thompson had his blushes spared when Dan Murray cleared off the line when flapping from the Jamaican left the goal unguarded, but he was caught out nine minutes shy of the interval with Israeli Bebras Natcho swivelling outside the box and releasing a right-footer that crept into the bottom corner.

Rovers have come out of the second-half blocks flying in this campaign, but so have Rubin, and they pulled two goals ahead in controversial fashion with the linesman keeping his flag down and Valdez converting.

There was more acrimony over the fourth, as Rovers claimed the ball had gone behind before it ricocheted into the path of Obafemi Martins, who slotted home with ease.

Replays showed it had, with the official behind the goal proving to be utterly pointless. After that, it was a countdown to the final whistle and the long journey home.

Rubin Kazan -- Ryzhikov; Kaleshin, Sharonov, Navas, Bocchetti; Ryazantsev (Dyadyun 71), Noboa, Natcho, Karadeniz (Ansaldi 69); Martins, Valdez (Kasaev 61).

Shamrock Rovers -- Thompson; Sullivan, Murray, Oman, Stevens; Dennehy, Rice, Turner (Twigg 81), Finn (O'Donnell 69), Paterson (Kilduff 69); Sheppard.

REF -- H Lechner (Austria).

Irish Independent

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