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Dundalk's Champions League dream dashed as late equaliser seals the tie for Legia

Legia Warsaw 1-1 Dundalk (Legia Warsaw win 3-1 on aggregate)

By Bill Steele

Dundalk's dreams of becoming the first Irish club to qualify for the Champions League group stage ended following a 3-1 aggregate defeat to Legia Warsaw.

A stunning strike from Robbie Benson gave the Lilywhites hope as they looked to overturn a two-goal first-leg deficit in the Polish capital but an injury-time equaliser from Michal Kucharczyk put the result of the play-off beyond doubt.

Benson smashed a dipping volley into the top-right corner from just inside the 18-yard box in the 19th minute after striker David McMillan had headed Sean Gannon's cross from the right back across goal.

The early goal was just what Stephen Kenny's side needed but, despite the 67th-minute sending-off of Adam Hlousek, they were unable to find a crucial second which would have forced extra-time before Kucharczyk broke to settle matters.

Dundalk looked to be facing a mammoth task following last week's 2-0 defeat in Dublin but they almost levelled the contest with 63 minutes played. Benson was unlucky this time as his overhead effort cleared the crossbar.

The Lilywhites' quest for a lucrative and historic Champions League spot appeared to have been made slightly easier when Hlousek pulled down Ronan Finn and was shown his second yellow in the space of 11 minutes to leave the home side a man light for the final 23 minutes.

Despite the numerical advantage, the Irish champions appeared to tire and they looked susceptible to counter attacks.

Substitute Guilherme threatened before Legia wrapped things up in the second of four minutes added on.

Kucharczyk retained his composure to cut in from the left and emphatically finish into the right side of the net to spark wild celebrations from the home crowd and condemn the visitors to a place in the Europa League.

Belfast Telegraph

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