Dundalk exit Champions League after defeat to Celje

Dundalk Exit Champions League After Defeat To Celje
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It will be a Europa cup future for Dundalk as they were knocked out of the Champions League campaign in the first round with a 3-0 defeat to NK Celje at the Szusza Ferenc Stadion in Budapest, Hungary.

With temperatures hitting 27 degrees Celsius pitch-side, it was the Slovenian side's first ever Champions League qualifier, having won the Slovan Prva Liga title for the first time last month. In contrast to Celje's recent success, Dundalk have had a run of poor form of late. After taking just two points from a possible nine on offer since the SSE Airtricity League restarted at the end of last month, Dundalk are eight points off league leaders Shamrock Rovers with just 10 games to go of the shortened domestic season.


So it was not surprising that the Hungarians were on the front foot early on, looking very comfortable in possession in the first 10 minutes. However, Dundalk soon settled and struck back with some promising attacks in the first half. Dundalk had the best chance of the first 20 minutes, when Brian Gartland got on the end of a corner, but the ball glanced off the top of the crossbar.

However, just before half-time Celje struck with a goal, after Gartland misread a ball back from teammate Chris Shields that was intercepted by Cleje's Luka Kerin.

In the second-half, a chance for Darragh Leahy, who found himself unmarked in the 65th minute went unfinished as it drifted wide of the post.

In the dying moments of the game, a break by Cleje's Mitja Lotric and Dario Vizinger, benefitting from a loose ball, punished Dundalk despite their best efforts and as the duo raced towards the goal, Lotric drew out the Dundalk keeper Gary Rogers before slipping the ball to Vizinger to stick into an empty net.


It was soon followed in injury time by a third goal for the Hungarians, with Rogers caught out by a curling free kick ty Lotric that was finished by Filip Dangubic.

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