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Stephen Kenny blasts referee as brave Dundalk's Champions League dream left hanging by a thread

Dundalk 0-2 Legia Warsaw

By David Young

Published 18/08/2016

Battle: Dundalk’s Ronan Finn and Legia Warsaw’s Michal Pazdan
Battle: Dundalk’s Ronan Finn and Legia Warsaw’s Michal Pazdan

Manager Stephen Kenny was left fuming after a controversial penalty decision left his Dundalk side facing a Champions League exit.

Kenny branded the 55th-minute award by German referee Deniz Aytekin "appalling", insisting his team did not deserve to be on the end of a 2-0 defeat to Legia Warsaw.

"It's just a shocking decision, just shocking," he said.

The penalty was the pivotal moment in an encounter at the Aviva Stadium - or the Dublin Arena as it was re-branded for the night in accordance with Uefas strict sponsorship regulations - that had been largely even until then.

Legia grabbed the initiative after the opening goal and went on to snatch a crucial second in added time.

Onrushing defender Andy Boyle was falling over and turning away from Legia forward Steeven Langil when his low drive whistled past him and thudded into his trailing right arm.

For Kenny it definitely did not justify a spot-kick.

"I am angry, I'm very disappointed, it's a really appalling decision to swing the game," he said. "I've viewed it back on the screen and it was going wide, Gary Rogers has it covered, there was no threat, there was no way it was going to end up in the back of the net.

"Andy Boyle has thrown himself at it to try and block it - brave defender that he is."

The Dundalk manager added: "His hand is not in an unnatural position - his arm is close to his body, so it's certainly not a penalty."

With Dundalk hopeful of becoming the first League of Ireland side to qualify for the Champions League group stages, Kenny said the consequences of the referee's decision were harder to take.

"In the historical context of football in Ireland, the importance of this game and the ramifications - to give a penalty like that was hugely disappointing and hard to believe," he said.

"It's a really, really poor decision."

Kenny said he had no problem with other aspects of the referee's performance but said the penalty award was "whimsical".

"I thought we were the better team up to that and there was no way we deserved to lose that game 2-0 tonight," he said.

Despite his disappointment, Kenny said he had not given up hope of overturning the result in Poland next week.

"It's still only half-time and we will go with every intention of putting in a strong performance away from home and giving it a real go," he said.

Legia coach Besnik Hasi said his side overcame some early nerves to dominate the game.

He insisted his players were worthy victors.

"I'm really pleased we didn't concede," he said. "We scored two and could've scored more."

DUNDALK: Rogers, Gannon, Barrett, Boyle, Massey, O'Donnell, Shields (Benson, 77 mins), Mountney (Finn, 64 mins), McEleney, Horgan, McMillan (Kilduff, 80 mins). Unused subs: Sava, Gartland, Grimes, Meenan.

LEGIA: Malarz, Broz, Pazdan, Lewczuk, Hlousek, Langil (Alexandrov, 88 mins), Odjidja-Ofoe (Kopczynski, 76 mins), Jodlowiec, Moulin, Kucharczyk, Nikolic (Prijovic, 83 mins). Unused subs: Cierzniak, Brzyski, Hamalainen, Rzezniczak.

Referee: Deniz Aytekin (Germany)

Man of the match: Steeven Langil

Match rating: 6/10

Belfast Telegraph

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