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Despite their best efforts, Dundalk lost all their group games.
The Aviva Stadium was the setting as Dundalk took on Arsenal in their final Europa League game of this campaign. Having just won the FAI Cup at the weekend, the Lilywhites would have been in good spirits going into the game, despite being already eliminated from qualifying. They produced a respectable, spirited display but Dundalk finished the group stage with 0 points as Arsenal claimed a 4-2 victory.
Unfortunately for Dundalk, it didn’t take Arsenal long to get going. Eddie Nketiah found the net after 12 minutes. The goal came as a result of a mistake from defender Andy Boyle, his clearance was closed down by the Arsenal striker before he closed down on goal and finished calmly into the net.
They had their second just minutes later. This time it was a wonderstrike. Mohamed Elneny struck from well outside the box and the ball floated into the top corner, leaving no chance for Gary Rogers.
With the scoreline at 2-0 after 18 minutes, most would have expected a long night for Dundalk. That wasn’t the case, though. Dundalk didn’t panic and got their own back in the 22nd minute. The goalscorer was Jordan Flores and it was a typical strike from him. He picked up a loose ball before playing a 1-2 with Michael Duffy and smashing into the back of the net from just inside the box.
Opportunities were few and far between afterwards, but Dundalk very nearly equalized in the dying embers of the first half. Darragh Leahy got on the end of a cross and his shot appeared to be goal bound, but it was blocked and went out for a corner which led to nothing.
The first half finished 2-1 to Arsenal but Dundalk should have been proud of their first half display. Despite being outclassed in the beginning of the game, they came back and didn’t look out of place despite the difference in reputation between the two teams.
Dundalk started the second as they ended the first by matching Arsenal in quality and producing a handful of decent attacking moves, albeit without any chances.
Their hard work was all but undone in the 67th minute, though. Joe Willock scored for Arsenal after a succession of defensive mistakes/frailties from Dundalk. Despite not being a natural goalscorer, Willock also netted against Dundalk in October.
Arsenal got their 4th of the night in the 79th minute. Young striker Folarin Balogun was the scorer. He was afforded far too much space as he was playing in before he coolly slotted past Gary Rogers.
Dundalk deserved to decrease the deficit given their display on the night and they did so in the 85th minute. Sean Hoare rose highest to meet a free kick with the back of his head which ended up in the back of the net.
The match finished 4-2 as Dundalk’s Europa League campaign ended while Arsenal advanced to the knockout stage. The scoreline was perhaps slightly harsh on Dundalk who remained competitive for much of the match.
FT: Dundalk FC 2-4 Arsenal
The curtain comes down on our UEFA Europa League Group B campaign – and an eventful season – with a spirited display against Arsenal at the Dublin Arena. The lads did us proud tonight. Great effort.
— DundalkFC (@DundalkFC) DECEMBER 10, 2020