Football/Soccer

Coleraine to host Motherwell in Europa League as Shamrock Rovers prepare for Zlatan and AC Milan

Oran Kearney's Coleraine take on Motherwell in the second qualifying round of the Uefa Europa League
Andy Watters

COLERAINE'S prize for their penalty shoot-out heroics in Slovenia last week is a home draw against Scottish Premier League outfit Motherwell in the second qualifying round of the Uefa Europa League.

The Bannsiders, who beat NK Maribor 4-3 on spot-kicks after extra-time failed to separate the sides, will host former Northern Ireland international Stephen Robinson's Motherwell on September 17 at The Showgrounds with extra-time and a penalty shoot-out again possibilities.

Ben Doherty scored the winning penalty in Slovenia last week after Rudi Vancas Pozeg had missed from the spot for the hosts. Earlier, James McLaughlin had given the battling Irish Premiership outfit the lead with a thumping left-foot volley on 62 minutes. Pozeg equalised just three minutes later but Oran Kearney's part-timers, who went into the first qualifying round tie as massive underdogs against the 15-times Slovenian champions, held their nerve to clinch a dramatic win.

Motherwell hammered Irish Cup winners Glentoran 5-1 to reach this stage. After a scoreless first half, Callum Lang, Stephen O'Donnell, Liam Polworth, former Celtic star Tony Watt and Chris Long all netted after the break.

Robbie McDaid netted a late penalty consolation but Motherwell – who lost 3-0 to Celtic last weekend - cruised into yesterday's draw.

Meanwhile, Shamrock Rovers will be involved in the glamour tie of the second round after they drew Italian giants AC Milan at Tallaght Stadium.

The Hoops, who beat Ilves on penalties to reach this stage, last played an Italian side when meeting Juventus a decade ago. Well-travelled former Barcelona and Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be part of the Milan squad as he is set to sign a new contract with the San Siro side who last played against an Irish side when they beat Athlone Town in 1975.

"I think the football department would have preferred one of the two other teams we could have got on paper," Shamrock Rovers chairman Jonathan Roche said.

"They looked a bit more of an easier draw but it's great for our fans who go to our matches week in and week out, obviously before the Covid came in.

"It shows that this is real football. It's a real football club they play for. Our first-team players can come up against some great names like Zlatan etc on the Milan team.

"It's coming up to 10 years since we played Juventus in the Europa League in Tallaght, and we had a great night. Everyone at the club is really looking forward to it.

"It's great validation for our club, and all the other clubs in the league that do great work week in, week out."

Elsewhere, Joe Mourinho's Tottenham travel to Lokomotiv Plovdiv while Rangers meet Gibraltar's Lincoln Red Imps, the side which pulled off a shock 1-0 home win against Brendan Rodgers' Celtic back in 2016, and Aberdeen take on Viking FK.

In the Champions path draw, Linfield (who lost against losing to Legia Warsaw last week) will hope to bounce back against Floriana while Dundalk travel to Andorra to take on unseeded Inter Escaldes.

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Football/Soccer