Cork City are through to the second qualifying round of the Europa League as they comprehensively defeated Levadia Tallin 6-2 on aggregate. Leading 2-0 from the first leg, a Sean Maguire hat trick, which now makes him the clubs all-time leading goal
Cork City are through to the second qualifying round of the Europa League as they comprehensively defeated Levadia Tallin 6-2 on aggregate.
Leading 2-0 from the first leg, a Sean Maguire hat trick, which now makes him the clubs all-time leading goal scorer in Europe with six, was enough to see City come from behind to beat Tallinn 4-2 at Turners Cross in the second leg and set up a tie with AEK Larnaca in the next stage.
Cork City remained unchanged from the side that won the first leg in Parnu last Thursday night whilst Levadia made two changes with Nikita Andreev and Artom Atrjunin replacing Luc Manga and Pavel Marin.
The SSE Airtricity League leaders had the first meaningful attempt on goal after three minutes but Kevin O’Connor’s strike from distance drifted just past the top left corner.
Levadia’s Joao Morelli also tired his luck from range but he drove his effort straight down the throat of Mark McNulty.
City were unfortunate not to take the lead after 11 minutes as Garry Buckley’s looping header from Jimmy Keohane’s excellent cross to the back stick struck the cross bar.
That near miss would prove decisive as Tallinn took the lead moments later to half the aggregate deficit.
Attacker Evgenii Kobzar secured possession on the edge of the City box before drilling a superb effort across Mark McNulty and into the far bottom right corner.
City eventually settled the nerves of the majority of the 6,314 home crowd as they levelled after 28 minutes when Karl Sheppard glanced Greg Bolger’s free from the left into far corner.
But the Estonian club again edged in front, wiping out City’s two away goals in the process, shortly before the half time break in controversial circumstances.
Winger Evgenii Kobzar appeared to control the ball with his arm before his cross from the right flank allowed Nikita Andreev to nod the ball just inside the far post.
It took City just 38 second half seconds to again level matters on the night and regain their two goal lead on aggregate.
Karl Sheppard’s cross from the right was expertly flicked past the keeper by the irrepressible Sean Maguire.
Maguire fired Cork in front on the night with four minutes remaining when he coolly slotted Achille Campion’s lay off past the keeper from close range.
And Maguire completed his second half hat trick to put himself two goals ahead of Dan Murray in the list of the clubs top goal scorers in Europe as he headed into the net from a few yards following a corner.
City will now face Cyprus side AEK Larnaca in the second round with the first leg set to kick off next Thursday evening.
Cork City: Mark McNulty, Jimmy Keohane, Conor McCormack, Ryan Delaney, Kevin O’Connor, Gearoid Morrissey, Greg Bolger (Achille Campion 85), Karl Sheppard (Steven Beattie 69), Garry Buckley, Stephen Dooley (Shane Griffin 78), Sean Maguire.
Levadia Tallinn: Sergei Lepmets, Artom Atrjunin, Aime Gando, Joao Morelli, Josip Krznaric, Nikita Andreev (Ingemar Teever 88), Igor Dundarev, Maksim Podholjuzin, Rimo Hunt, Mark Oliver Roosnupp, Evgenii Kobzar (Pavel Marin 60).
Referee: Gunnar Jarl Jonsson (Iceland).