DFC | Heartbreak in Trondheim as Rosenborg end Dundalk FC’s hopes

UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round Second-Leg
Rosenborg 2–1 Dundalk FC | Rosenborg win 3–2 on aggregate

Dundalk’s Champions League hopes came tumbling down in Trondheim as Rosenborg overturned a one-goal deficit to advance 3–2 on aggregate after an absorbing encounter at The Lerkendal Stadium.

The League of Ireland champions were full value for their early lead, given to them by centre-back Brian Gartland, but, in similar fashion to the first-leg at Oriel Park, they were unable to see it out to the break with Yann-Erik De Lanlay equalising two minutes before the interval.

Rosenborg penned Dundalk back throughout the second half and with their energy levels flailing, the Lilywhites were happy to take the tie to extra time. However, their ambitions of securing a Third Qualifying Round clash against Celtic went up in smoke in the 97th minute when Icelandic Matthias Vilhjalmsson headed past Gary Rogers.

Stephen Kenny went into battle with the same XI that started the first encounter. Niclas Vemmelund, a doubt after limping off with a hamstring injury seven days earlier, was declared fit. Club captain Stephen O’Donnell was named on a bench that looked to have plenty of options.

The hosts made three changes with Birger Meling replacing Johan Bjordal in the back four. In front of that, Kare Ingrebrigsten jigged around with his wide players with the highly rated de Lanlay replacing Matthias Vilhjalmsson and Serbian Milan Jevtovic coming in from Pal Andre Helland.

Despite being a physically much smaller team than their Norwegian counterparts, Dundalk forced five corners in the opening 20 minutes and threatened on each occasion.

The one that mattered most arrived in the 12th minute after a great Vemmelund pass from the back found John Mountney on the right.
He engineered a corner and Michael Duffy’s delivery was right on the money, Gartland powering past a Rosenborg defender to leave Andre Hansen with no chance.

David McMillan almost put Dundalk into dreamland four minutes later but his header was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Hansen. How crucial the save turned out to be.

Fuelled with belief, Dundalk’s confidence soared and another anxious moment followed for the natives three minutes later when Mountney rose to flick a ball inside; Skjelvik’s attempted clearance almost beating Hansen at his near post.

The jeers from the 14,000 plus crowd showed exactly what the home support thought of their side’s showing but Rosenborg stepped it up and Dundalk’s first real scare arrived in the 35th minute.

Robbie Benson was robbed in midfield with the ball breaking kindly for Bendtner but his touch was heavy and sent De Lanlay too wide, a fruitless corner the outcome.

That kickstarted a decent spell of pressure for the hosts and they drew level with 43 minutes on the clock after a brilliantly worked goal.

Their two Danes, Bendtner and Mike Jensen were the architects. The big striker’s exquisite flick found his captain and his subsequent pass inside Gannon was perfectly weighted for De Lanlay who raced clear to finish past Gary Rogers.

Dundalk lost their composure after that and Rogers was forced into a decent save two minutes later, pushing away a Jevotic shot after the ball deflected kindly into the Serbian’s path.

Buoyed by the goal, Rosenborg started quickly after the break and Vemmelund had to charge down a Fredrik Midtsjo effort within 60 seconds of the restart.

Things became incredibly open after that and Dundalk were let off the hook in the 58th minute when Bendtner rounded Rogers but he couldn’t pick out the incoming Jensen.

Kenny introduced O’Donnell for Duffy in the 59th minute in a bid to get some possession of the ball but it was the Scandinavians who kept pushing with Rogers having to stop long range attempts from Konradsen and Midtsjo.

Dundalk remained under the cosh and Rosenborg squandered a great opportunity to pull ahead in the tie when Vegar Hedenstad’s free-kick found Tore Reginiussen but he snatched at the chance and Rogers was grateful to make an easy save.

With Vemmelund outstanding at the back, Dundalk inched towards extra-time and they had a decent opportunity to work Hansen in the 89th minute. McEleney was taken out by Jevtovic right on the edge of the penalty area, Benson curling a training ground free-kick routine around the wall only to see it palmed behind by the goalkeeper.

McMillan then steered a header wide after a positive burst by substitute Jamie McGrath and the fourth official had just signalled for three additional minutes when Rogers did well to bat another Midtsjo effort behind.

Ciaran Kilduff, the hero of Dundalk’s European journey last year, replaced the tireless McMillan in the fourth minute of extra-time.

It was another substitute, however, who had the decisive say, Vilhjalmsson climbing high above Gartland to direct a Hedenstad cross past Rogers and edge Rosenborg ahead on aggregate.

Kilduff almost repeated his exploits of 2016 on the stroke of half-time in extra time when he let fly with a half volley from Gartland’s knock down. The ball whistled towards goal but Hansen’s fingertip save took it onto the bar and over the top.

McGrath fired off target in the second period and even though they pressed hard, Dundalk just couldn’t find the goal that would have taken them through.

What might have been….

ROSENBORG: Andre Hansen; Vegar Hedenstad, Tore Reginiussen, Jorgen Skjelvik, Birger Meling; Mike Jensen, Anders Konradsen, Fredrik Midtsjo; Milan Jevtovic (Elbasan Rashan 105), Nicklas Bendtner (Marius Lundemo 114), Yann-Erik de Lanlay (Matthias Vilhjalmsson 72). Subs not used: Arild Ostbo (GK), Jacob Rasmussen, John Bjordal, Alex Gersbach,.

DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Niclas Vemmelund, Dane Massey; Robbie Benson, Chris Shields; John Mountney, Patrick McEleney (Jamie McGrath 84), Michael Duffy (Stephen O’Donnell 59); David McMillan (Ciaran Kilduff 94). Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (GK), Paddy Barrett, Sean Hoare, Dylan Connolly.

REFEREE: Aliyar Aghayev (Azerbaijan). ATTENDANCE: 14,817.

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