By Henry O’Donovan
Cork City were unlucky 1-0 losers to AEK Larnaca at Turner’s Cross on Thursday night. A second half goal from Joan Truyols proved the difference between the two sides in the first leg of the Europa League second qualifying round.
The visitors had the best of it in the opening ten minutes. In the opening minute Ivan Trickovski had a shot from distance that went well wide. In the 5th minute Florian Taulemesse was slipped through and his shot was well saved by the foot of Mark McNulty.
City began to find their footing soon after, taking control of the central third. In the 14th minute Sean Maguire found space down the right and whipped in a menacing cross that was well cleared by an acrobatic diving header from Truyols, with Garry Buckley lurking at the back post.
A minute later Maguire found himself free again, this time down the left. He drove past the defender and made it to the byline, but his pull back was blocked clear.
In the 18th minute Larnaca had another chance with a shot from distance. Jorge Larena’s curling shot from 25 yards was held by McNulty on the second time of asking.
After the opening 20 minutes the teams seemed to have reached a stalemate in midfield, with the Leesiders winning the majority of the 50-50’s but unable to seriously threaten the visitor’s goal.
The second half continued the way the first left off, with both teams cancelling each other out in midfield.
The pivotal moment of the match came in the 69th minute. A cross from the right wing and a ricochet between defender and attacker saw McNulty get a hand to the ball and Beattie complete the clearance off the line. From the resulting corner City failed to clear and the ball fell to Truyols, who finished low through the crowd from just outside the six yard box.
After the goal Larnaca took the energy out of the game. Playing simple passes they seemed happy to settle for the 1-0 away win.
John Caulfield’s men looked to have salvaged something in injury time, as substitute Achille Campion controlled the ball, turned, and played the ball into the path of Maguire. He drove into the box and shot, but the defender got back to block the ball away.
City pushed, and a melee ensued in the visitor’s box. The ball fell to Gearoid Morrissey, but his volley collided with the mass of humanity in front of the goal and bounced harmlessly away.
The game ended soon after and the home side can feel hard done by. It was an even game for the most part and decided by a rare attack from the visitors. Still, It’s all to play for in the second leg next week.
Referee: François Letexier.