The Dundalk team before tonight's game in Trondheim. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
UEFA Champions League Qualifier
Rosenborg 2-1 Dundalk (AET, Rosenborg progress 3-2 on aggregate)
The dream is over. The dream of Champions League group stage football. The dream draw of Glasgow Celtic. It's all over.
However, there can be no doubting the effort of Stephen Kenny and his troops in Trondheim tonight as they bowed out after extra-time. Rosenborg substitute Matthias Vilhjalmsson nodded home the decisive fifth goal of the contest in the first-half of that extra-time period A goal which put Kare Ingebrigsten's team ahead in the tie for the first time.
It had looked as if Dundalk were going to produce another European masterclass when Brian Gartland headed them into the lead, before Yann-Erik De Lanlay tied the game two-minutes before the break with a tidy finish.
On reflection, Rosenborg were probably the better team on the night and deserving of the place in the next round. But had Dundalk taken their chances in the opening 20 minutes at Oriel Park. Had David McMillan taken his chance shortly after the opener. Had Ciarán Kilduff's extra-time shot sailed six-inches lower...
Had Dundalk taken their chances, undoubtedly, it would be they who would be facing a trip to Scotland next Wednesday night.
You cannot take from their efforts either. They were a credit over the 210 minutes of play, hardly deserving to concede the tie.
Gartland's lead goal - on 12 minutes - was reward for their positive start to the game. Good work by Niclas Vemmelund and John Mountney saw the latter force a corner, which Michael Duffy delivered onto the head of the towering Gartland to put The Lilywhites ahead in both the game and the tie.
It really should have been 2-0, and tie over, three-minutes later when another nice move resulted in McMillan powerfully meeting another Duffy corner. The ball looked destined to finish up in the back of the net, however, Anders Hansen produced a spectacular stop to deny the forward from drawing level with George Best on nine European goals.
Dundalk looked to have had Rosenborg pinned against the ropes, though they failed to administer the lethal dose as the Norwegians battled their way back into contention.
Mike Jensen's influence became more apparent as the half wore on. The midfielder began to find pockets of space with Chris Shields in particular playing below his usual standards in midfield.
Gradually, Dundalk's defensive line dropped deeper and deeper with Gartland and Vemmelund being dragged further apart in the centre. It took a miracle drop from the latter to deny Vegar Hedenstad the equaliser, though the home team did grab a leveller two-minutes from half-time through De Lanlay.
A through ball from Jensen saw the winger steal a yard ahead of Seán Gannon before racing towards goal and shooting low past Gary Rogers - who perhaps could have been prompter off his line.
It could have gotten worse only for Rogers to pull off a fine save to deny Jevtovic from the edge of the area, with the visiting defence again suspect.
Despite Stephen Kenny's half-time words ringing in their ears, Dundalk's tentative approach continued to prove a hindrance as Rosenborg - who were by no means impressive - remained the likelier to find the all-important fifth goal in the tie.
Fredrik Midsjo's shot forced Rogers to save before a Hedenstad free-kick offered last week's goalscorer Tore Reginussen a gilt-edged chance to put Rosenborg ahead. The defender completely miscued his effort though, with his sliced, fresh-air shot nestling in the hands of Rogers.
You sensed that the home team were edging closer to a decisive goal. However, it was a curling free-kick from Benson which almost won it for the visitors, only for Hansen to pull-off another fine save. The Lilywhites had a reasonable footing to question why the man who gave away the free-kick - Jevtovic - wasn't dismissed having committed three consecutive fouls after his 74th minute caution.
Extra-time was how the game was to be decided, and ultimately where a weary Dundalk would fall. The warning signs were there as they lethargically shadowed the Norwegians.
Centre-back Jorgen Skjelvik fired a warning shot a phase before Vilhjalmsson decided the contest by heading Hedenstad's delivery from the right past the rooted Rogers.
It looked game, set and match at that point, however, a strong finish to the first-half of extra-time resulted in Kilduff forcing Hansen into a third incredible tip-over save of the contest.
There was little action in the second-period of extra-time with Rosenborg content to sit back and snuff out repeated Dundalk attacks. Kilduff threatened to produce a telling flick-on, however, on each occasion that the ball broke, a home defender was there to clear.
Dundalk bow out, after some effort.
Rosenborg: Anders Hansen; Vegar Hedenstad, Tore Reginussen, Jorgen Skjelvik, Birger Meling; Mike Jensen, Anders Agnes Konradsen, Frederik Midtsjo; Milan Jevtovic (Elbasan Rashani 116), Nicklas Bendtner (Marius Lundemo 114), Yann-Erik De Lanlay (Matthias Vilhjalmsson 72)
Subs: Arild Ostbo (gk), Jacob Rasmussen, Johan Bjordal, Alex Gersbach
Booked: Jevtovic (74)
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Brian Gartland, Niclas Vemmelund, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; John Mountney, Patrick McEleney (Jamie McGrath 84), Michael Duffy (Stephen O’Donnell 59); David McMillan (Ciarán Kilduff 94)
Subs: Gabriel Sava (gk), Paddy Barrett, Seán Hoare, Dylan Connolly
Booked: Duffy (55), McEleney (60)
Referee: Aliyar Aghayev (Azerbaijan)