Sligo and Derry fall behind at the half way stage!
Sligo Rovers and Derry City both suffered 1st leg defeats in their Champions League qualifier and Europa league qualifier respectively. With both competitions at the 2nd round qualifying phase the two Irish sides had tough draws. Sligo faced Ole Gunnar Solskjær's Molde FK at the Showgrounds on Wednesday evening and Derry had to deal with the daunting task of playing well known Turkish outfit Trabzonspor in Turkey last night.
The first ever Uefa Champions League match at the Showgrounds saw Sligo Rovers clash with Norwegian champions Molde FK on a balmy evening in the Irish west coast. Hoping for their first European win since 1994, the Bit o' Red held the ball well in the opening few minutes, with Lee Lynch being given space out wide. However, his cross from the right evaded Anthony Elding after good work in the middle from David McMillan.
The Bit O' Red started well despite nerves being evident from the off. Mistakes from the home players gifted possession to the opposition, and Rovers fans were relieved when Emmanuel Ekpo failed to capitalise on a mistake from Joseph Ndo. A quick counter-attack produced a great chance for David McMillan, but the new signing was denied by Ordan Nyland. Aliou Coly almost gave the visitors the lead when his goal bound shot was blocked by the feet of Sligo keeper Gary Rogers midway through the first half. A few minutes later Ross Gaynor delivered a superb free-kick but Evan McMillan couldn't get his head on it. The Norwegians went up the other end and nearly broke the deadlock when Daniel Chima Chukwu forced Rogers into another excellent save following McMillan's error as the visitors began to take control of the game.
The Nigerian made no mistake second time round when struck three minutes before half-time at The Showgrounds as Solskjaer's men earned an advantage to take back to Norway for Tuesday's return leg. Chukwu clinically punished another mistake from the Sligo defence when he turned inside Gavin Peers to fire the ball past Rogers.
Molde looked happy to hold onto the ball and protect their lead in the second half. The introduction of Kieran Djilali seemed to make a difference for Rovers once again, and this time his first involvement was in defence as he blocked a Joona Toivio effort off the line. The hosts upped the tempo, and on 67 minutes Ndo went close with a low shot that went narrowly wide of the post, while Djilali caused problems out wide, putting in a dangerous ball for Lynch which required a crucial block from Agnaldo. Djilali had a great chance to equalise with ten minutes to go as he latched on to a ball nodded down by Anthony Elding, but the winger was off balance as he lifted it well over the bar. Three minutes later, an inviting cross from Liam Martin seemed to panic the Molde defence as they hesitated in clearing the danger, allowing Alan Keane to strike from distance, but his effort was blocked.
For Molde it seemed to be a tale of two halves as they looked shaky in the latter part of the game. The Norwegian champions managed survive the Sligo onslaught and hold onto their narrow lead ahead of the second leg at the Aker Stadion next Tuesday.
Florent Malouda watched on from the stands as Trabzonspor signed him from Chelsea during the week. Derry started the match cautiously, keeping a high line not wanting to give the Turks any room. Unfortunately poor defending cost them with 10 minutes on the clock. Nice link-up play from the Turkish outfit saw Olcan Adin escape the back four, and his powerful near-post effort was palmed away by Gerard Doherty. With the ball bobbling in the six-yard area, Barry McNamee’s attempted headed clearance fell meekly for Polish international Mierzejewksi, whose spectacular bicycle kick evaded desperate City attempts to clear.Derry City went head to head against Turkish giants Trabzonspor on Thursday night in front of a hostile crowd. The conditions perhaps suited the candystripes however as rain bucketed down helping keep the players cool. This was Derry's first match in Europe since 2009 when they played in the same competition under its former guise, the UEFA Cup. On that occasion, the Candystripes beat Skonto Riga 2-1 on aggregate before losing 2-1 on aggregate to CSKA Sofia in the following round.
Six minutes later, the six-time Turkish champions doubled their lead through Paulo Henrique, this time Doherty at fault. Adin was allowed too much time by the visitors to take a shot from 20 yards, but the tame effort that followed was inexplicably spilled into the path of the Brazilian to gratefully tap home. It looked like a long night was in order for Derry as they trailed 2-0 after only 15 minutes.
However, Derry did read the script as from nowhere a seamingless minor mistaken pass in the Turks defence resulted in a wonder strike from 22 year old David McDaid on 24 minutes. Argentinian midfielder Gustavo Colman gifted the ball to McDaid who then touched it through the legs of Giray Kacar before rifling a stunning left-footer to the corner of Onur Kivrak’s net for a brilliant finish.
This gave Declan Devine's men hope but that hope nearly disappeared merely seconds from the restart as Doherty redeemed his earlier lapse with a fine save to touch Sen’s lob into the air and away from danger. Derry continued to paly positive football despite the clear difference in class and ability. Unbelievably, Derry were level 8 minutes after their first when Barry Molloy broke from defence and played a lovely ball forward to Paddy Kavanagh, who cut inside and this time beat Kivrak at his near post with the aid of the slightest deflection.
An enthralling first half saw Derry's hard work undone minutes before half time. McNamee gave away a questionable free-kick near the Derry penalty area. The impressive Adin whipped in the free-kick and captain Barry Molloy could only head past the already committed Doherty.
In the second half Trabzonspor thought they added to their lead when Henrique headed past Dohery in goal less than a minute after the break, only to the flag go up for offside. Shortly after that, they did get the goal they wanted on 51 minutes when Mierzejewksi’s corner found centre-half Kacar completely unmarked in the Derry area, the Turk making no mistake with his header restoring his side's two-goal cushion.
Both sides struggled to create any clear cut chances for the majority of the second half as the game became more physical in the midfield. Late on, substitute Ryan McBride's long range effort when narrowly wide. That was the last of the action as the Turkish side held out for the 4-2 win. The candystripes keep their slim hopes of Europa League progression alive but Trabzonspor are clearly the firm favourites to advance when the sides meet next Thursday at the Brandywell.
David McDaid's superb goal
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