Lilywhites march on to Croatia for Hajduk Split tie
Dundalk 3 Jeunesse Esch 1 (Dundalk win 5-1 on aggregate)
All roads lead to Croatia for Dundalk fans after their side booked a spot in the Europa League second qualifying round after this victory over Jeunesse Esch at Oriel Park last night.
Coming into the game on the back of a 2-0 win in Luxembourg nine days earlier, Stephen Kenny's side went on to hit three more goals to record Dundalk's biggest aggregate win in European competition.
The reward for the Lilywhites is a crack at Croatian side Hajduk Split in the next stage. Oriel Park will play host to the first leg this upcoming Thursday.
The sides previously met back in 1977 in the European Cup Winners' Cup when Dundalk saw a 1-0 lead from the first game wiped out by a 4-0 defeat in the away leg.
The Croatian side will provide a much stiffer test than Jeunesse did here, particularly in the opening 45 minutes.
Dundalk had the tie put beyond doubt by the half-time break thanks to first-half efforts from Brian Gartland, Kurtis Byrne and John Mountney.
Gartland made the breakthrough with his sixth goal of the season after nine minutes, rising to head a Ruaidhri Higgins free-kick past Marc Oberweis from 12 yards.
Jeunesse were almost granted an instant reprieve less than 60 seconds later. Ken Corral forced his way into the Dundalk penalty area and rounded Peter Cherrie, but Dane Massey intervened at just the right time.
Kurtis Byrne made it 4-0 on aggregate when he bundled home David McMillan's cut back from close range in the 36th minute and John Mountney took advantage of the room given by the Jeunesse back four to drill home from the right of the penalty area in first-half stoppage-time.
Jeunesse improved considerably after the break.
Half-time replacement Ricardo Delgado set up Jonathan Zydko for Jeunesse's goal in the 55th minute, the French midfielder rolling the ball into Peter Cherrie's bottom corner.
DUNDALK – Cherrie; Gannon, Gartland (Kelly 79), Boyle, Massey, Towell, Higgins; Mountney, Byrne (Hoban 61), Horgan (Griffin HT), McMillan
JEUNESSE ESCH – Oberveis, De Graca, Portier, Hoffman, Vitali; Kintzinger, Todorovic (Delgado HT), Zydco (Agovic 78); Corral (Albanese HT), Ibrahimovic, Melisse
REF – Tsvetan Krastev (Bulgaria)