Shamrock Rovers' European dream ends as Molde prevail in Tallaght

Shamrock Rovers’ European dream ends as Molde prevail in Tallaght

Shamrock Rovers 0

Molde 2

SHAMROCK ROVERS’ hopes of progressing from the Europa Conference League are over following a 2-0 loss to Molde tonight.

David Fofana opened the scoring in controversial circumstances, as the striker was clearly offside before Kristian Eriksen’s second-half header sealed the win.

Stephen Bradley’s men failed to capitalise on some decent chances — a recurring theme throughout this disappointing group-stage campaign in which they have yet to score a single goal.

The Hoops went into this game bottom of the group, three points behind second-place Molde, and badly needing a win to boost their hopes of progression.

Rovers made four changes from last week’s reverse fixture. Roberto Lopes, Jack Byrne, Dylan Watts and Richie Towell came into the team while Lee Grace, Aidomo Emakhu, Justin Ferizaj and Andy Lyons made way.

Meanwhile, there were three alterations from that game for the current Norwegian league leaders — Martin Bjornbak, Kristoffer Haugen and David Datro Fofana were introduced in place of Kristian Eriksen, Mathias Fjörtoft Lövik and Etzaz Hussain.

A lively start saw Rovers almost score inside the opening two minutes. Dylan Watts’ ball up the touchline found Richie Towell, whose low cross was met by Aaron Greene, but the attacker’s first-time finish from close range was the wrong side of the post.

The visitors came more into the game thereafter but Rovers went close again in the 14th minute. Watts found Ronan Finn with a lovely cross-field pass and goalkeeper Jacob Karlstrom dealt with the defender’s subsequent effort on goal unconvincingly, weakly helping it behind for a corner.

In contrast to last week when they were ahead after 10 minutes, the Norwegians barely threatened in the opening stages, with the Irish side invariably on the front foot.

Greene was the next Rovers player to seriously threaten as a low shot just inside the area from Finn’s square pass was parried by Karlstrom, with the prospect of a first goal in the group stages looking increasingly likely for the Premier Division leaders.

However, it was Molde who were ahead against the run of play moments later.

On the counter-attack, Magnus Grodem played it wide to Emil Breivik, who clipped in a cross that was comfortably dispatched by the head of David Fofana to silence the previously buoyant home crowd.

Replays revealed the Ivory Coast teenager should have been ruled offside, but with no VAR employed in the Europa Conference League, the goal was given.

As half-time approached, Fofana almost doubled his side’s advantage.

The striker was played through on goal via Ola Brynhildsen’s incisive through pass amid another rapid counter-attack, but Alan Mannus got down well to turn his finish behind for a corner.

Rovers will consequently have been frustrated at the break, as despite 65% possession and a couple of decent chances, they trailed Erling Moe’s men.

Ireland Under-21s Manager Jim Crawford with Ireland manager Stephen Kenny.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Rovers were in the ascendancy again in the early parts of the second half.

Karslstrom had to be alert to turn behind Towell’s low shot on the turn before Dan Cleary headed over Jack Byrne’s corner.

The hosts were then nearly punished down the other end

Mannus could only parry Breivik’s low shot from distance before Kristoffer Haugen hit the side netting on the follow-up.

As the half wore on, the home fans’ frustration grew. The early momentum dissipated as they struggled to seriously test their opponents’ defence.

Instead, Molde looked more likely to get a second, and Mannus did well again to keep out Magnus Wolff’s low shot.

But it ultimately proved immaterial, as, from the ensuing corner, Molde got their second goal of the night.

Wolff’s delivery was headed home powerfully at the near post by fellow substitute Eriksen.

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 Neil Farrugia and Graham Burke were then introduced off the bench as Rovers attempted to rescue something from the game.

And the Irish side thought they had one back with 19 minutes remaining — Greene slotted home Byrne’s clever through ball, but the striker was correctly adjudged to be marginally offside.

As full-time approached and the match looked all but over, the Hoops toiled away manfully but their rivals saw out the game with relative ease.

While Molde have left themselves in a strong position to advance on seven points, Rovers now have little but pride to play for in their remaining fixtures at home to Gent in two weeks and away at Djurgaden thereafter.

Shamrock Rovers (3-5-2): 1. Alan Mannus 3. Sean Hoare 6. Dan Cleary 4. Roberto Lopes 8. Ronan Finn (Farrugia 69) 11. Sean Kavanagh 16. Gary O’Neill 7. Dylan Watts (Ferizaj 81) 17. Richie Towell (Burke 69) 29. Jack Byrne 9. Aaron Greene

Subs: 23. Leon Pohls 2. Sean Gannon 5. Lee Grace 10. Graham Burke 18. Viktor Serdenyuk 20. Rory Gaffney 21. Justin Ferizaj 23. Neil Farrugia

Molde (3-5-2): 1. Jacob Karlstrom 19. Erik Haugan 3. Birk Risa 2. Martin Bjornbak (Hansen 46) 28. Kristoffer Haugen (Fjortof Lovik 64) 25. Emil Verhaugvik Breivik 8. Sivert Heggheim Mannsverk 22. Magnus Grodem (Eriksen 64) 21. Martin Linnes (Knudtzon 81) 11. Ola Brynhildsen 9. David Fofana (Wolff 64)

Subs: 12. Alexandro Craninx 26. Oliver Petersen 4. Benjamin Hansen 7. Magnus Wolff Eikrem 14. Erling Knudtzon 15. Markus Kaasa 16. Etzaz Hussain 20. Kristian Eriksen 24. Johan Baake 31. Mathias Fjortof Lovik 33. Nikas Odegard

Referee: Dario Bel (Cro)

Attendance: 5,860

#Shamrock #Rovers #European #dream #ends #Molde #prevail #Tallaght

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