Football/Soccer

Dundalk and Linfield left with mountains to climb after disappointing home ties

Diarmuid Pepper

Dundalk struggled to break down Riga FC during their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round first leg clash at Oriel Park.

It now means that Vinny Perth's men have to score away in Latvia if they are to have any chance to progress.

Riga are the reigning Latvian league champions, though they were happy to soak up the pressure from the Lilywhites and take a clean sheet back to Latvia.

Dundalk enjoyed a lot of possession but struggled to penetrate Riga's defensive structure.

Despite bossing it in terms of possession, it took Dundalk over an hour to really test Ozols in the Riga goal.

Riga's defence was well marshalled by defenders Antoijs Cernomordijs and Herdi Prenga, and at times the visitors threatened to hit Dundalk on the break.

The Latvians will be the happier of the two sides given they have home advantage in the next leg, though Dundalk will still feel they have enough in their arsenal to progress.

They may have to do so without Chris Shields, who was taken off following a bad looking clash with Daniel Clearly just before half-time.

Sean Hoare had two great chances in almost as many minutes to put Dundalk ahead in the first half, but failed to capitalise.

Right at the death, it looked as though a smash-and-grab was on the card, as Riga substitute Dennis Rakels curled a free-kick narrowly wide in the 93rd minute.

Dundalk are still very much in this tie, but may rue their lack of clinical finishing tonight.

The winner of Partizani and Qaraba? await the victors in the second qualifying round.

Dundalk FC: Rogers; Gannon, Cleary, Hoare, Jarvis; Shields (Boyle HT), McEleney; Mountney (Benson 58), McGrath (D Kelly 80), Duffy; Hoban. Subs not used: McCarey, Gartland, Massey, G Kelly.

Riga FC: Ozols; Petersons, Cernomordijs, Prenga, Rugins; Visnakovs, Saric, Laizans Bopesu; Roger (Rakels 79); Debelko. Subs not used: Uvarenko, Gabovs, Fjordorovs, Bilinski, Ibrahim, Stuglis.

Referee: Peter Kralovi? (SVK)

Linfield have a mountain to overcome if they are to make it into the second qualifying round of the Champions League after losing 2-0 at home to Norwegian side Rosenborg.

The reigning Norweigian champions had too much for David Healy's men who came undone in Windsor Park.

Mike Jensen and Alexander Soderlund claimed the goals which see Rosenborg put one foto into the second qualifying round.

Linfield played admirably for large portions of the game but were hit by goals in either half against a Rosenborg side who made it to the group stages of the Europa League last season.

Jensen grabbed the first goals for the visitors shortly after the 20 minute mark, firing home from inside the Linfield area.

Soderlund added a second, which perhaps but the game beyond doubt, with a close-range finish on the 69th minute.

However, Healy has reason for cheer after tonight's game debutant Bastien Hery put in an impressive shift in midfield.

Should Linfield be able to overturn Rosenborg in Norway, they will be rewarded with a second qualifying round tie against the winners of BATE Borisov and Piast Gliwice.

But if Rosenborg finish the job, Linfield will face the victors of HJK Helsinki versus HB Tórshavn.

Linfield: Deane, Casement, Callacher, Stafford, Clarke, Millar,

Hery, Mulgrew, Quinn, Waterworth, Jordan Stewart. Subs: Moore,

Lavery, Forde, Kearns, Fallon, McGuiness, Andrew Mitchell.

Rosenborg: Hansen, Hedenstadt, Reginiussen, Hovland, Meling,

Jensen, Lundemo, Konradsen, Akintola, Soderlund, Asen. Subs:

Ostbo, Denic, Helland, de Lanlay, Trondsen, Valsvik, Ceide.

Referee: Ivaylo Stoyanov (Bulgaria)

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