Dundalk FC came away from Tallinn with a vital Dylan Connolly away goal. PICTURE: Ciaran Culligan
Dundalk FC put one foot into the next round of the UEFA Europa League with a hard-fought 1-0 win over FCI Levadia Tallinn in Estonia yesterday.
Dylan Connolly was the man of the moment when he slid home from the back post in the 53rd minute.
The sizeable travelling contingent, which seemed to outnumber the host's fan base, did their most to fire-up Dundalk throughout a hard fought encounter for Stephen Kenny's men.
However, Kenny will probably feel that they could have returned home with a greater margin of victory, which would have more or less assured progress to the next round.
The Lilywhites came close before the break when Robbie Benson saw his shot deflected away for a corner, when a goal seemed on.
Keeper Rogers was called into action on a couple of occasions in the first half, with one memorable save turning a Levadia shot from a tight angle away for a corner for the hosts.
After Connolly netted in the 53rd minute, he could have doubled Dundalk's lead with just over 15 minutes remaining. He raced onto a through ball which split the Levadia defence open, however his shot was blocked by Sergei Lepmets.
The return leg takes place in Oriel Park next Thursday, with many seeing progress now an expectation given the importance of the away goal from the Tallinn clash.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; Dylan Connolly (John Mountney, 88), Jamie McGrath (Krisztián Adorjan, 81), Michael Duffy (Ronan Murray, 90); Pat Hoban.
Levadia: Sergei Lepmets; Markus Jurgenson, Igor Dudarev, Maksim Podholjuzin, Dmitri Kruglov; Marcellin Gando (Pavel Marin, 56), Yuriy Tkachuk, Rasmus Peetson (Muamer Svraka, 67), Jevgeni Harin (Mark Oliver Roosnupp, 76); Roman Debelko, Nikita Andreev.
Referee: Bojan Nikolic.