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Shamrock Rovers’ Euro dream ends

Shamrock Rovers have made history this year by becoming the first Irish team to qualify for the group stages of a European competition. 

The men from Tallaght ensured qualification after a magnificent 2-1 away victory over Serbian outfit Partizan Belgrade.

Rovers reward for the historic achievement – a place in Group A alongside English heavyweights Tottenham Hotspur. It was the team every fan was hoping to get, meaning a bumper payday for the club.

Rovers would have to wait a while to take on Tottenham as they had to contend with Russian outfit Rubin Kazan in their first group match. The game gave a stark reminder to fans of the quality of the competition they would be facing as they went down 3-0.

The game couldn’t have started worse for Rovers in front of their diehard fans as former Newcastle man Obafemi Martins connecting with a low flying cross from Partizan winger Kardeniz with only three minutes on the clock.

Rovers had a couple of chances in the first half, the first coming after some fine individual play from Enda Stevens while Gary Twigg met a cross from the right and his header went over the bar from close range.

The second half didn’t start well for Rovers as they conceded yet another early goal on the 50th minute. Kazan attacker Noboa fired an unstoppable shot past Rovers keeper Thompson from the edge of the box. It was the goal that effectively killed off the tie.

A further goal from Partizan player Karadenez on 60th minutes put a slightly distorted look on the result. Rovers put up a good fight but the difference in quality was evident as Kazan ran out 3-0 victors.

’Rovers next match saw them travel to London to take on Tottenham Hotspur. The match saw a strong travelling support and the Hoops players didn’t disappoint.

After a strong opening first half which saw both teams carving out good goal scoring opportunities, it was Rovers who took a deserved lead in the 50th minute trough a goal from Stephen Rice.

The goal was sadly the last bright piece of play from Rovers as Spurs quickly equalised in the 60th minute trough Roman Pavlyuchenko. Two more quick goals followed in the space of three minutes through Jermaine Defoe and Giovanni dos Santos which made Rice’s goal seem it never happened.

Tottenham deservedly finished the match as 3-1 winners to leave Rovers bottom of Group A without a point leading into match day three.

The Irish Champions would travel to Greece for their next encounter of the group stages to face PAOK Salonika.

Rover’s fans encountered trouble on the way to the match as a two day country wide strike in Greece shut down public transport links. Those who did make their way to the stadium witnessed Rovers third defeat of the campaign.

The visiting team made a promising start to the game but were undone by another early goal in the 12th minute from PAOK player Lazar.

Rovers looked outclassed for the remainder of the first half and struggled to keep the deficit to one goal going into the break.

The men from Tallaght emerged after half time with a sense of urgency and hit back trough an early Karl Sheppard goal on the 47minutes.

The Hoops could not maintain their momentum and fell behind again on 60 minutes when Vierinha unleashed an unstoppable effort from just outside the box.

Rovers failed to put their Greek hosts under pressure for the remainder of the game and a 2-1 defeat was a fair result overall.

Rovers have three more matches in the group to make an impression but already things look bleak. Hoops fans will look forward to December 15th with great excitement when they welcome Tottenham to The Tallaght Stadium.

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