|20/07/17||18:00||UEFA Europa League||2017|
Cork City have exited the UEFA Europa League at the second qualifying round stage after a 1-0 loss to AEK Larnaca in Cyprus tonight. The tie finished 2-0 on aggregate.
The game also marked Seán Maguire and Kevin O’Connor’s final games for Cork City before they depart to join Preston North End.
City boss John Caulfield made four changes from the team that defeated Bray last Sunday. Stephen Dooley, Gearóid Morrissey, Jimmy Keohane and Kevin O’Connor all returned to the starting line-u in place of Karl Sheppard, Kieran Sadlier, Alan Bennett and Shane Griffin.
The home side had the first efforts at goal with Mark McNulty called into action twice to keep his side in the tie. City’s first opportunity fell to Dooley, he got on the send of Maguire’s pass after the Kilkenny man created space for the cross from the left. Dooley’s shot lacked accuracy and drifted just wide of the post.
Maguire was again the creator, this time for Keohane but the latter’s shot lacked power and was easily gathered by Juan Pablo in the AEK goal.
Larnaca took the lead in the 34th minute. After City failed to clear a corner kick, Jorge Larena drilled the ball into the box from just outside the “D”. Florian’s glancing header was enough to beat McNulty, making City’s task of qualifying all the more difficult.
City were denied what seemed to be a clear penalty after Maguire was bundled over in the box in an off-the-ball incident, but the Leesider’s failed to threaten AEK’s goal under the tiring, humid conditions.
The Rebel Army’s European adventure has concluded for at least another year, while City will set their sights on securing UEFA Champions League qualification this season.
Referee: Pavle Radovanović (Montenegro).