Drogheda United Come So Close To Toppling Dynamo Kiev
SHANE ROBINSON came within the width of a post of putting Drogheda United into the third qualifying round of the Champions League in Kiev last night in what would have been the biggest victory by a League of Ireland side in their 51 years in Europe.
With the scores level at 2-2 a minute into stoppage time, substitute Fahrudin Kuduzovic put midfielder Robinson away down the right and his low cross was parried on to the post by goalkeeper Taras Lutsenko with the ball rolling across the goal to safety.
If it had gone in Drogheda would have won on the away goal rule. An incredible finish to the match saw Graham Gartland stab home Paul Keegan's 88th-minute free-kick to put Drogheda level for the second time in a riveting match.
Seconds later Australian midfielder Adam Hughes somehow shot over the bar from six yards after Ibrahima Iyane-Thiam had flicked on Joe Kendrick's cross from the left.
"We were so disappointed in there, I can't put it into words," said Robinson who'd scored Drogheda's first equaliser.
"A lot of people said we were going to get hammered. It was an insult to us, we're full-time professionals four years; we eat, sleep, drink football.
"We never doubted ourselves to be honest, we're proud of what we did tonight, the genuine feeling is we're disappointed. It's a nice two fingers to a couple of people that wrote us off, we do everything to be professional footballers, we're not amateurs anymore."
Oleksnadr Aliev scored a brilliant late winner at Dalymount Park as Dynamo won 2-1 in Dublin last week. And the Ukrainian under-21 star scored the early goal Drogheda dreaded to appear to end the tie.
But Drogheda rode their luck and hit back before half-time from a Robinson penalty. That rattled Dynamo, who despite having all the possession in the second half, needed a penalty of their own to get back in front.
Milos Ninkovic stung the hands of Jamie Ewings from long-range on the half-hour before Drogheda silenced the home crowd by equalising on 40 minutes.
Kendrick put a superb ball in from the left for the run of Richie Baker who was pulled down by Badr El Kaddouri. Robinson confidently fired the penalty into the bottom right corner despite Lutsenko diving the right way.
Dynamo went back in front on 73 minutes when Brazilian right-back Betao was taken down by Kendrick and substitute Artem Milevsky blasted the spot kick to the roof of the net.
"Why say 'so close yet so far'—we should have won," said an emotional manager Paul Doolin. "It's simple, we had two chances at the end that should have won the game. Adam's effort should have been a goal, but that's what happens sometimes."
The chance of a lifetime may never present itself again and this was a real chance to see an Irish amatuer side do wonders in Europe...
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