St. Patrick's Athletic's return to the Europa League qualifiers ended in a 2-0 home defeat to IFK Norrkoping on Thursday night. Despite battling hard throughout, a second half strike from Simon Thern and a Lee Desmond own goal left Harry Kenny's me
St. Patrick's Athletic's return to the Europa League qualifiers ended in a 2-0 home defeat to IFK Norrkoping on Thursday night.
Despite battling hard throughout, a second half strike from Simon Thern and a Lee Desmond own goal left Harry Kenny's men with an uphill task ahead of next week's second leg.
Pat's started brightly in the opening exchanges but the first chance of note fell to Norrkoping's Rasmus Lauritsen in the 11th minute when he headed over from a Gudmundur Thorarinsson free kick.
The first real drama arrived a couple of minutes later when Saints' Gary Shaw received a pass from Mikey Drennan before appearing to be bundled over in the box by visiting captain Alexander Fransson. Despite seeming like a strong claim for a penalty, the Swiss referee waved away the protests of the Saints players, leading to much frustration in the Inchicore crowd.
Ten minutes later, Drennan set up Shaw again but the latter couldn't direct his header goalwards. At the other end, Norrkoping were starting to get a grip on the game with Jordan Larsson guilty of shooting wide on two occasions.
The breakthrough arrived for the away side on 55 minutes when Ciaran Kelly appeared to lose the ball before Fransson set up Thern to find the net.
Pat's enjoyed a period of dominance later in the second half and could have found the net through Drennan as well as through a couple of long-range efforts from Jamie Lennon.
While the home crowd may have felt they deserved a goal, Saints' hard work was undone in the 85th minute when Desmond headed into his own net. The defender tried to clear another header from Kasper Larsen, who had got on the end of Lars Gerson's corner.
In the end, the 2-0 scoreline flattered Norrkoping but Pat's will rue a series of missed chances, a theme which has been common throughout their season. The return leg will take place in Sweden next Thursday.