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Dundalk hopes alive despite defeat by AZ

Dundalkrsquo;s Stephen Orsquo;Donnell with Ben Rienstra of AZ Alkmaar

Dundalk will complete their Group D campaign away to Maccabi Tel Aviv

A ninth-minute strike by Wout Weghorst gave AZ Alkmaar victory and put a huge dent in Dundalk’s hopes of reaching the Europa League knockout stage.

Weghorst pounced to score from close range when the ball fell invitingly for him as the League of Ireland champions struggled to clear a corner.

Dundalk, still in contention for a place in the last 32, play Maccabi Tel Aviv away in their final Group D game.

AZ, now in second and a point ahead of Dundalk, play Zenit at home.

It was the Dutch side’s first win in the group and they will go through if they can beat the already-qualified Russian club, who possess a 100% record.

In front of the onlooking Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane, presumably there to run the rule over Republic of Ireland squad players Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle, Dundalk failed to find the resilience that had characterised their European adventure.

Irish champions ‘out of season’

Dundalk were playing their first match for 19 days as their domestic season ended on 6 November with a penalty shootout defeat by Cork City in the FAI Cup final.

And, if Stephen Kenny’s men clinch qualification on 8 December, they will have a severely restricted close season break.

The first-leg games in the last 32 are on 16 February, with the return matches on 23 February, one day before 2017 League of Ireland campaign starts.

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Early goal a blow for Dundalk

The early goal knocked the hosts’ confidence a bit, but they did manage to get in the match with Ciaran Kilduff going close with some first-half chances.

Dundalk lost skipper Stephen O’Donnell before the break with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and he was replaced by John Mountney.

In the second half, it was much the same. Dundalk were lively and willing, but lacked that cutting edge.

Just coming up to the hour, goalkeeper Gary Rogers kept Dundalk in the match with a fantastic save from Weghorst. The striker did well to get on the end of a through ball from Alireza Jahanbakhsh to test the Meath man from point blank range.

Rogers, arguably Dundalk’s best player, also made a fine save in the 74th minute, deflecting Mat Seuntjen’s effort on to the post.

In the 76th minute David McMillan came on to replace Kilduff, but even his introduction couldn’t provide the spark that the Louth side needed.

With a final throw of the dice, Dean Shiels was brought on for Patrick McEleny, but the League of Ireland Premier Division champions could not find a crucial equaliser.

Live Text

Match ends, Dundalk 0, AZ 1.

Second Half ends, Dundalk 0, AZ 1.

Attempt blocked. Robbie Benson (Dundalk) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ronan Finn.

John Mountney (Dundalk) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ridgeciano Haps (AZ).

Attempt saved. Ben Rienstra (AZ) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Fred Friday.

Brian Gartland (Dundalk) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Fred Friday (AZ).

Attempt missed. David McMillan (Dundalk) header from the left side of the six yard box misses to the left. Assisted by Sean Gannon with a cross.

Foul by John Mountney (Dundalk).

Ridgeciano Haps (AZ) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution, AZ. Fred Friday replaces Wout Weghorst.

Foul by John Mountney (Dundalk).

Stijn Wuytens (AZ) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Dundalk. Conceded by Ridgeciano Haps.

Attempt blocked. Sean Gannon (Dundalk) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Daryl Horgan.

Hand ball by Wout Weghorst (AZ).

Stijn Wuytens (AZ) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Stijn Wuytens (AZ).

David McMillan (Dundalk) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution, Dundalk. Dean Shiels replaces Patrick McEleney.

Substitution, AZ. Thomas Ouwejan replaces Muamer Tankovic.

Offside, AZ. Mats Seuntjens tries a through ball, but Muamer Tankovic is caught offside.

Substitution, Dundalk. David McMillan replaces Ciarán Kilduff.

Attempt missed. Muamer Tankovic (AZ) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Stijn Wuytens with a cross following a corner.

Substitution, AZ. Dabney dos Santos replaces Alireza Jahanbakhsh.

Corner, AZ. Conceded by Gary Rogers.

Attempt saved. Mats Seuntjens (AZ) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Alireza Jahanbakhsh.

Attempt saved. Ciarán Kilduff (Dundalk) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Daryl Horgan.

Foul by Ron Vlaar (AZ).

Ciarán Kilduff (Dundalk) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ).

John Mountney (Dundalk) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Sergio Rochet (AZ) because of an injury.

Foul by Ciarán Kilduff (Dundalk).

Sergio Rochet (AZ) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Dundalk. Conceded by Wout Weghorst.

Corner, Dundalk. Conceded by Stijn Wuytens.

Attempt saved. Stijn Wuytens (AZ) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Wout Weghorst.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38068671