Saturday 18 November 2017

Zayed brace not enough to rescue Sporting's Euro hopes

Sporting Fingal 2
CS Maritimo 3
(Maritimo win 6-4 on aggregate)

Neil Ahern

AS THE club with the most illustrious history in Ireland snatched a famous result in Israel, one of the country's youngest senior football clubs failed to write its own bit of history back in Dublin last night as Sporting Fingal crashed out of the Europa League.

And while the Hoops set up a glamour tie with Juventus in the third round of the Europa League, Fingal can at least take solace in the fact that their Dublin rivals had to endure many nights like the one they experienced at Dalymount Park last night, before they reached such glorious heights.

The rank outsiders, only three years in existence, did make a right go of it just when all looked lost as Eamon Zayed snatched two late goals, but in the end the Madeira outfit eased through with an identical result to the first leg on the Portuguese island.

Things looked ominous from the start, when Fingal, despite embarking on the first attack, were caught cold on the break just 35 seconds in.


The visitors' holding midfielder Sousa slid a delightful pass with the outside of his boot into the path of Cherrad and, as he rounded 'keeper Brendan Clarke, it looked like all of Fingal's plans would go up in smoke, but Lorcan Fitzgerald just about recovered to block in front of the open goal.

Fingal were bringing the game to the Mediterranean outfit and had the lion's share of possession in the first half, but it was a moment of panic that led to the opener on 19 minutes.

Danilo Dias picked up possession after Fingal lost the ball and, with three players facing two defenders, Shaun Maher launched into a reckless challenge on the tricky midfielder.

He left the Maltese referee with no other choice than to award a penalty and Alonso duly stepped up to tuck the spot-kick home with his cultured left boot.

Marquinho doubled his side's advantage on 67 minutes, after Ronan Finn had a goal ruled out for offside, and a late flourish gave Fingal a glimmer of hope when Zayed finished from Conan Byrne's pin-point cross nine minutes from time.

Zayed did double his tally one minute before the end with another tidy finish from Fitzgerald's cross but substitute Kanu had scored in between for the visitors to seal their place in the third round.

SPORTING FINGAL -- Clarke, O'Brien, Maher, Browne, Fitzgerald; McFaul (Zayed 64), Finn, Williams; Byrne, Crowe, Kirby.

CS MARITIMO -- Pecanha; Esteves, Guilherme, Robson, Alonso; Marquinho (Luciano 71), Sousa, Danilo Dias, Tcho (Kanu 81); Cherrad (Fidelis 89), Baba.

REF -- M Borg (Malta).

Irish Independent

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