Shamrock Rovers have it all to play for when FC Copenhagen visit Tallaght next week due an impressive display keeping the Danish champions at bay for much this Champions League qualifier.
In the end the Danes, ranked 41st in Europe by UEFA, may well feel fortunate to have come out with a victory.
After four minutes it looked as if the gap in quality would wear harshly on The Hoops as Solvi Ottesen’s near post header hit the back of the net but Rovers settled well and never allowed the Danes to get comfortable.
The goal came as a corner was cleared by Ken Oman only to be sent back into the area before the Dubliners’ defence had a chance to regroup, Ottesen snuck to the near post to meet Christian Bolanos’ precise cross.
To their credit Michael O’Neill’s men kept their composure and slowly grew into the game with sustained pressure and good possession throughout.
A period of control for Rovers lead to their best chance of the game, Pat Sullivan’s cross was not dealt with by the Copenhagen defence and Billy Dennehy pounced only for his toe poke to be saved by Johan Wiland’s standing leg.
Copenhagen’s lightening counter attacking meant that though at times it looked as if Rovers would be capable of stealing an away goal their attacks were always tempered by the need to keep the shape.
Just before the end of the first half goalkeeper Ryan Thompson, making only his second start for Rovers, was called into action and responded superbly by pushing Pape Paté Diouf’s close range header over the crossbar.
If the feeling was that Copenhagen were going through the motions in the first half they were at half speed for much of the second.
Rovers kept the ball for long periods after half time and worked out chances when Ken Oman narrowly sent his header wide from a Dennehy corner and later Ronan Finn shot across the goal after good hold up play from Gary Twigg made space in the box.
Copenhagen searched in vain for a second but Rovers remained strong and Conor McCormack was quick to break up play and spread the ball to his team mates.
Although it seemed as if Copenhagen were in a low gear for this leg and are capable of more, The Hoops will be delighted with their performance and with a full house at Tallaght next Tuesday the Danes may yet regret not putting the tie to bed tonight.
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