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Dundalk can be a knockout despite defeat, says Kenny

Zenit St Petersburg 2 Dundalk 1

By Aidan Fitzmaurice

Stephen Kenny firmly believes his Dundalk side are in the hunt for a place in the Europa League knockout stages despite a 2-1 loss to Zenit St Petersburg in Russia last night.

A goal in each half from Brazilian international Giuliano, with an equaliser from Daryl Horgan in between, means Dundalk have lost both games against the Russians, but with AZ Alkmaar and Maccabi Tel Aviv drawing 0-0, second spot in the group is still up for grabs for the League of Ireland champions, who lie third.

"We're always in the shadow of the English teams but we're emerging as a team who are forging their own identity on the European stage and people are relating to us across Europe," Kenny said.

"They see a team with very small resources overcoming the odds against some of the great European teams and matching them.

"The journey doesn't have to stop over the course of the next couple of games, we believe we can qualify for the last 32.

"We're quite disappointed to lose; we understand that Zenit were the better team and deserved to win and that's not in question.

"But Daryl's goal was so exceptional, it deserved to get a result, that goal itself.

"And, when we went 2-1 behind, Patrick's (McEleney) effort hit the crossbar. It would have been a terrific moment to equalise at 2-2 with the game nearly up. We hit the woodwork twice in the game here, and in Dublin the woodwork denied us at crucial times."

Kenny, who must now turn his thoughts towards preparing his players for Sunday's FAI Cup final before their final two games in the Europa League, at home to AZ and away to Maccabi, added: "We probably needed everything to go for us to get a result, we are disappointed but we can take encouragement from the performance.

"There are two games left and it's still in our own hands. AZ have to come to Dublin and we have to go to Israel.

"It looks like it will go down to the last game, and the margins are very narrow. We just have to wait and see."

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