Shamrock Rovers advanced to the second round of Europa League qualification with a 3-0 win over FC Progres Niederkorn at Tallaght Stadium last night.
A brace from Kieran Marty Waters and an early David Webster goal means that the Hoops return to the second round of Europa League qualification for the first time since 2012, and Rovers manager Pat Fenlon was more than pleased with the result and his side’s progression to the second round.
“It’s not often you get two clean sheets in home and away legs in Europe and obviously we’re massively pleased to be in the next round which is a big help to us, and the performance was good as well which is always helpful,” said Fenlon.
“I thought we passed the ball well, moved it well and the third goal was a really good move and the problems they caused us tonight only seemed to be off set pieces, I don’t think they cut us open too many times but set pieces seemed to cause us a few problems.”
Centre-back David Webster opened the scoring in the 21st minute after redirecting a low Brandon Miele drive, while Waters added a second just before halftime, capitalising on a spilled Sebastian Flauss take to head the ball home from close range. The goals were somewhat fortunate, but the Hoops third was sensational – a sweeping cross-field move that involved multiple passes and finished with Waters burying a left footed shot that rifled inside the near post that left Progres goalkeeper Flauss at a standstill.
It was the hosts third and Waters’ second, as his goal effectively put an end to the game as a contest.
Although Craig Hyland managed to keep a second successive clean sheet for Rovers, it was far from a quiet night for the hoops goalkeeper as the set-piece caused the home side plenty of problems throughout the night.
Webster may have scored the opener for Rovers, but the former Bray Wanderers defender certainly had his work cut out for him on the defensive end where the hosts were often quite shaky.
“I think we started the second half quite sloppy and that was probably down to me setting the tone with the bad pass,” Webster told reporters at the post-match press conference.
“I think we maybe could have dealt with them [set-pieces] better, could have held a higher line but I think they had about four of five corners there at the end but I thought we defended them well.”
“It comes down to communication but it’s also tiredness as well. We did a good bit of travelling there and played a good few games with more games to come, but we’re fit, we know we’re fit, but sometimes those big European ties drain you a bit.” Webster continued.
Rovers will most likely now be drawn against Norwegian side Odds BK after their 3-0 first leg win over Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspol, and Fenlon is now switching full focus towards preparing for the Norwegians.
“A Norwegian team are 3-0 up so you’d think they’d go through but I think they play Rosenborg on Sunday so that’d give us a good chance to see them.
“They’re a good side. We watched the first game [against Tiraspol] and they were sharp, movement was very good, work rate was fantastic so we know we’re going to be in for a hard night.”
Rovers will have to wait until Thursday night for confirmation of their second round opponents but will take confidence in their convincing win over Progres as they look to return to the Europa League group stages for the first time since 2011.