Kenny cautious as Dundalk edge towards Europa round two
Jeunesse Esch 0 Dundalk 2
DUNDALK manager Stephen Kenny believes complacency is the most dangerous opponent his side now face after they returned home from Luxembourg last night with a decisive victory.
The win – the first in 11 games by an Irish side in Europe – effectively seals their passage into the second qualifying round of the Europa League, guaranteeing the club an additional €130,000 and a date with the Croats, Hajduk Split.
"It was a good win," said Kenny, "because this side had beaten a Finnish team in Europe last year."
But last night, Dundalk proved they were much better, controlling the bulk of the game, creating 23 goalscoring chances to their hosts 13, getting eight of those on target, and two – courtesy of Richie Towell – into the Jeunesse net. And so they return to Oriel Park tomorrow week with a two-goal lead and one foot in the next round.
Dundalk deserved the win, which was built around Towell's dynamic performance and also the tried-and-trusted 4-3-3 tactical formation which has turned the club into the most attack-minded in the country.
At the heart of their system is Towell who was Dundalk's best player last night, ably assisted by Daryl Horgan and Darren Meenan on the flanks, Chris Shields sitting as a protective shield in front of the back four, and Kurtis Byrne positioned further forward.
David McMillan, had the first chance, when his overhead kick went narrowly over the bar.
"It was an open sort of game, particularly in the first half," said Kenny. "And that suited us."
Kenny's attacking philosophy was suiting Meenan, the tricky winger, whose cross from the right on nine minutes found the head of Brian Gartland. However Marc Oberweis – Jeunesse's goalkeeper – was equal to the effort.
Further chances came and went – McMillan firing wide, Dane Massey missing the target with another – before Sanel Ibrahimovic caused havoc in the Dundalk defence, although Andy Boyle and Gartland combined to clear.
Later Peter Cherrie denied Kim Kintzinger before finally, after 59 minutes of pulsating action, a goal came. Towell, scoring from the penalty spot, after Eric Hoffman had fouled McMillan.
Within 11 minutes it was 2-0, Towell again the scorer, after he brilliantly controlled McMillan's downward header before powering a thunderous shot past Oberweis.
"Richie did really well for us," said Kenny. "He has a great mentality and that is a massive help in European competition."
So too is a 2-0 lead heading into a second leg.
"The priority now is not to get complacent," said Kenny."