Shamrock Rovers and Derry City have it all to do next week after suffering home defeats in their respective Europa League qualifier first leg ties.
Dundalk had got the ball rolling for League of Ireland clubs in Europe on Thursday with a fine 1-0 away win at Levadia Tallinn, but the other two sides were unable to keep that run going.
To Tallaght first, where Stephen Bradley’s Hoops will be disappointed to have lost a match that they might feel could have been very different had they been that more adventurous.
The home side had the better of the opening stages, Dan Carr just unable to adjust his body to poke home an early chance. However, they failed to make their early advantage count as a solitary shot from new signing Dylan Watts proved to be the sum total of their attacking threat in the opening half hour.
From there, AIK began to grow in confidence and had a decent chance to score a vital away goal through Henok Goitom, but the sides went in at the break scoreless in Tallaght.
The opening to the second half was that bit more combative and even, but chances were hard to come by as it became that bit more pensive. The visitors, however, were slowly growing in confidence and it seemed to be only a matter of time before they started fashioning chances.
With just over fifteen minutes remaining, disaster struck for Rovers, a neat, quick move from AIK saw Daniel Sundgren played through on goal with a defence,-splitting pass – the winger did the necessary to slot past 16-year-old Rovers keeper Gavin Bazunu give the visitors a priceless away goal.
Here’s the goal that has put AIK 1-0 up at Tallaght Stadium.
— eir Sport (@eirSport) July 12, 2018
AIK were able to see out the remaining twenty minutes or so with relatively little fuss – 1-0 the final score, a relatively comfortable night for the Swedes but frustration for Bradley and Shamrock Rovers.
— Shamrock Rovers F.C. 🇮🇪 (@ShamrockRovers) July 12, 2018
At the Brandywell, meanwhile, Derry City have been left with a mountain to climb after going down to 2-0 defeat to Dinamo Minsk.
In front of a disappointing turnout at the Brandywell, Kenny Shiels’ Candystripes found themselves 1-0 down courtesy of a Nino Golovic strike with just two minutes on the clock. From there, Dery City found their bearings but rarely looked in a position to threaten Andrey Gorbunov in the visiting goal.
After a couple of chances after the restart, Dinamo Minsk made it 2-0 midway through the second half courtesy of Uladzimir Khvashchynski, a goal which put a serious dent of Derry’s hopes of getting any sort of result on the night.
A bad night was made worse with ten minutes remaining as defender Conor McDermott receiving a red card for a second bookable offence, giving Shiels another headache ahead of next week’s second leg in Minsk.
— Derry City FC (@derrycityfc) July 12, 2018