St Patrick's Athletic with a mountain to climb in Sweden next week after defeat in Inchicore
A return to Europe after a three-year absence for St Patrick's Athletic looks like it will end at the first-round stage as the Saints went down 2-0 at home to Swedish side IFK Norrkoping in the first leg of their first round clash tonight.
With nine internationals in their starting XI, including Jordan Larsson (son of Celtic legend Henrik) and Simon Thern (his dad, Jonas, also an ex-Sweden player), there was a touch of class about the visitors.
And while they had to wait until the 55th minute to get their lead goal, from Thern, they were always in control and will expect to use next week's home leg to progress to the second qualifying round, their second goal an harsh one to take as Lee Desmond netted an own goal.
The home side had a claim for a penalty in the 13th minute when Gary Shaw went to ground under a challenge from Alexander Fransson but the Swiss referee saw no infringement of the rules and waved away the penalty claims.
Pat's needed veteran keeper Brendan Clarke at his best on 22 minutes when he saved at point blank range from Jordan Larsson, Larsson close again on 28 minutes.
Once Norrkoping scored the lead goal on 55 minutes, a good finish by Thern after good work by Fransson, the Saints were truly up against it, the home side unable to trouble Norrkoping until the 72nd minute, when defender Ian Bermingham tested keeper Isak Pettersson with a well-struck shot.
Norrkoping made it 2-0 five minutes from time, Lee Desmond unfortunate to get an own goal on his record as his header, after Kasper Larsen had flicked on Lars Gerson's corner, went past his own keeper.
A late flurry for the Saints led to an injury time shot from Mikey Drennan forced a save from the away keeper but the Swedes went home with a win and a clean sheet and eyes on the next round.