Sligo Rovers’ European tour appears to have been completed, but John Russell’s side suffered a massive 5–1 defeat to Viking of Norway in the first leg of Europa Conference League third qualifying round games.
t had a rough night from Russell’s side, having a nightmare-ish start to the game, and were unable to match the levels shown by their Norwegian counterparts.
Coming to Stavanger in this game, Russell knew his side was underdog, coming up against one of Norway’s most successful clubs, having knocked Sparta Prague out of the same competition last week.
Rovers’ victory over Motherwell may have given Viking some cause for concern, but in truth the Norwegian side was too strong for its visitors.
And it looks like Roves’ incredible European campaign is coming to an end in 2022.
Russell stuck with the same opening 11 he did at Motherwell last week, with Viking making just one change for the tie.
Winger Zlatko Tripic was named in the starting 11, and is one of the club’s most popular players.
The Rovers boss, as always, did his homework on his opponents. He knew it would be a step up from the teams Rovers had faced in their previous rounds.
What he didn’t expect, however, was that within minutes of the game everything would go so wrong.
The Vikings were applying pressure almost immediately after kick-off, with Tripick proving to be a handful from the start.
Stories were needed to get out of the storm, but the rovers didn’t even have time to settle into the game before Viking moved on.
Again, due to a problem with Rovers on the right-hand side, the ball came to Tripick, who put the hosts in front of a crowd of over 11,000, leaving Luke McNicholas behind.
When Russell was telling his players on the sidelines to stay calm and stick to the game plan, that plan got another setback minutes later when midfielder Adam McDonnell had to walk out after suffering an injury.
In his place, Max Mata was brought in, but after another set-back, Rovers struggled to hold the game.
With eight minutes of play left, they found themselves down 2-0 as the Vikings found more joy inside the Rovers box.
This time, Fridjönsson threw his shot into the net to bring daylight between the two sides.
The Rovers were still looking to catch their opponents on the brakes, and as Aidan Keena stepped forward to run over a clearance, they drew closer.
As he pushed the ball, it felt like it got stuck under his feet and the opportunity was gone.
Whatever their chances of a 2-0 loss, their job was made tougher when a serious injury to Gary Buckley forced him off the field after a prolonged pause.
There was no immediate word on full-time about the initial forecast, but it’s likely the rovers will have a clearer picture 24 hours later.
As Bit O’Reid progressed into the game, Keena pulled a long-range effort off the post, with the Rovers actually making half the chances at this stage.
Russell would have been happy with his side improving as the half went on, but the concession of the third goal on 53 minutes was the real killer blow.
Traore, who came as a sub in the second half, tucked his shot in a cool way to make it 3-0, with Sandberg’s superb finish after a superb build-up play probably the pick of the bunch as Rovers now 4- was below 0.
Russell made the changes, with Greg Bolger and Frank Livak almost 17 minutes left to see if Rovers could survive the tie.
It was a lot of one-way traffic, and the fifth goal reached Viking’s place on 86 minutes as Edwin Ostbow added to Rovers’ misery on a difficult night.
The game was in the final stages when Rovers were awarded a penalty as Frank Livak was brought down in the box, with David Cooley scoring the penalty in front of 65 or so traveling fans.
In the second leg of this third qualifying round, Rovers will have to prepare again to take on Viking at The Showgrounds next Thursday, although it looks like the tie is likely to go beyond Rovers, who survived the tie for home. expected to keep. leg.
The focus will be on Sunday’s league game very quickly as the Rovers take on the Bohemians at The Showgrounds at 4.45pm.
Viking FK: Patrick Gunnarsson, Sondre Flam Björschl (Edwin Ostbo, 77), David Braccalo, Viljar Vevatn, Kevin Alexander Cabran (Niklas Sandberg, 46), Samuel Fridjönsson, Marcus Solbken, Harald Tangen (Christopher Lokberg, 61), Shayne Patina Tripik (Simon Kavia-Ageskog, 77), Daniel Karlsbakk (My Traore, 46).
Sligo Rovers: Luke McNichols, Lewis Banks, Shane Blaney, Gary Buckley (Nando Piznecker, 22), Paddy Kirk, Carl O’Sullivan (Frank Livak, 75), David Colley, Adam McDonnell (Max Mata, 7), Niall Morahan, Will Fitzgerald, Aidan Keena (Greg Bolger, 75).
Referee: Radu Marion Petrescu (Romania)