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Hibernians fall to Shamrock Rovers in Champions League qualifying opener

SHAMROCK ROVERS   3

Finn 25; 40 Watts; Gaffney 78

HIBERNIANS   0

SHAMROCK ROVERS A. Mannus, S. Hoare, R. Lopes, L. Grace, A. Lyons, C. McCann, G. O’Neill, D. Watts (80 Gannon), R. Finn (80 Towell), A. Greene (67 A. Emakhu), R. Gaffney (85 J. Ferizaj).

HIBERNIANS I. Kone, J. Zerafa (89 L. Soares), G. Iziquier, R. Soares, Gonzalo, Z. Grech (89 L. Caruana), Thaylor (80 A. Attard), D. Vella, A. Diakite, G. Mensah (46 T. Groothusen), J. Degabriele.

Referee Morten Krogh

Yellow cards J. Zerafa, G. Artilles, R. Gaffney

Hibernians suffered a heavy defeat to Irish side Shamrock Rovers in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round match on Tuesday.

Hibernians, led by assistant coach Ryan Pulis, started the match with a significant setback as coach Stefano Sanderra, defenders Andrei Agius and Ferdinando Apap, and midfielders Jake Grech and Bjorn Kristensen were all out suspended.

Pulis handed a debut to new signings Gonzalo, Rodolfo Soares, and Gabriel Mensah.

Taking a defensive approach in the opening moments of the game, Hibernians were put under pressure as Aaron Greene hit the first shot of the game in the second minute with the Irish side holding most of possession.

Rory Gaffney then missed a goalmouth chance for Shamrock after a Dylan Watts cross was blocked by Hibs goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone.

At this point in the game, the ball was constantly in the Hibernians’ half as Shamrock continued to press on. Their efforts were rewarded on 25 minutes when Andy Lyons’ low cross found Ronan Finn all alone in front of goal to put the ball past Kone.

Despite having just conceded, Hibernians found the strength to create their first real chance of the game.

On the half-hour, a counterattack found Jurgen Degabriele just past the halfway line who put in a pin-point cross towards Dunstan Vella but his header was saved by Alan Mannus.

The Shamrock goalkeeper was put to work again four minutes later to stop a Zachary Grech cross.

As Hibernians began to settle into the game, Shamrock stunned them with a second on 40 minutes, Watts put in a near-identical cross for Gaffney to slot into the net to end the half two goals ahead.

The Irish team remained the stronger side as the second half opened but substitute Terrance Groothusen, who came on for Mensah at the restart, nearly brought Hibs back into the game but his fiery shot smashed the upright.

Ali Diakite hit well over just before the hour, but the greatest chance came to Thaylor on 62 minutes when he lost his marker to meet another Degabriele throughball. However, with just the goalkeeper to beat, the Brazilan curved the ball too much and his shot hit the post.

On 78 minutes, Shamrock closed off the affair with a third goal through Gaffney.

The Irish forward had just been involved in an altercation with Hibs’ Gabriel Izquier, controversially escaping with just a yellow card. It was a double whammy for Hibernians when he found space past three defenders and put the ball into the net.

Kone did not let down his guard when Aidomo Emakhu swerved past two defenders and tried to curve the ball for a fourth goal. However, there was not much else the side could do before the game came to an end with a mountain to climb in the second leg for Hibernians.

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