Saturday 18 November 2017

Permutations: Here's exactly what Dundalk need to do to make history and qualify for the Europa League knockout stage

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

It has been a spectacular European odyssey for Dundalk this season and it will take an almighty performance in Israel - and a bit of luck - for them to extend their fairy tale by another chapter.

When Dundalk went 1-0 down to FH in Iceland during the second leg of their Champions League second round qualifier, it looked all but certain that Stephen Kenny's side's European interests would be over for another season.

But a David McMillan double was the first of many heroic European contributions from a very special squad, who have now taken the scalp of some impressive continental opponents.

Dundalk are in Israel tonight for their final Europa League group game against Maccabi Tel Aviv - and know they need another seismic effort if they are to upset the odds once more and escape from their group.

As it stands, Zenit are the runaway Group D leaders with 15 points. AZ are in second with 5, followed by Dundalk and Maccabi Tel Aviv on four each, with Kenny's men in third by dint of winning the first fixture between the teams.

What Dundalk need to qualify for the knockout stage is to beat Tel Aviv and hope that AZ either draw or lose at home to Zenit.

Alternatively, a score draw for Dundalk and a loss for AZ would see them through, as the Airtricity league champions would then come out on top of a three-way head-to-head battle between against the Dutch side and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Unfortunately for Dundalk, the Russian outfit have nothing to play for and will almost certainly start a weakened team in the Netherlands. However, AZ aren't world-beaters and may be susceptible to a slip up.

After beating Maccabi Tel Aviv in Tallaght Stadium following a Ciaran Kilduff goal in October, Dundalk will be confident of repeating the feat at 6pm this evening.

Then, it will be up to the European football gods to smile kindly on a team who have already made Irish football history.

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport