Sligo Rovers

Tuesday, 23 July, 2013
2 - 0
Champions League

Sligo Rovers have bowed out of the UEFA Champions League at the second qualifying stage following a 3-0 aggregate defeat to Norwegian champions Molde.

Martin Linnes and Alion Coly did the damage with Molde's goals in the fifth and 77th minutes as the Norwegian side came out 2-0 on top in the second leg at Aker Stadion.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Ian Baraclough's side got off to the worst possible start.

Just under five minutes in, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side tore Sligo's defence apart with a slick passing move down the right, which culminated in a shot from right-back Linnes that squirmed under Gary Rogers.

The task remained the same for the Irish champions, who knew at least two goals would be required at the start of proceedings.

The opposition goal seemed to spark Sligo into life and they had a flurry of chances in a five-minute period.

First a clever back-heel from David Cawley found Kieran Djilali who saw his shot blocked just outside the area.

Cawley then picked out David McMillan even closer to goal a minute later, but again a despairing Molde body was thrown in front of the ball to stop its route to goal.

Djilali sensed nervousness from Molde's back line and a purposeful run on ten minutes led to a shot, which again was deflected out for a corner.

The best chance of the lot came from a Joseph N'do cross to the back post which found the head of McMillan, but the ex-UCD man couldn't find the target.

After a frenetic start, the game settled into a midfield battle, with some sloppy passing on show from both sides.

Solskjaer's men seemed happy with their lead, and were unwilling to commit too many men forward.

A chance to double the lead came when a calamitous ball across midfield from Ross Gaynor was latched onto by the goal-scorer from the first leg - Daniel Chima Chukwu.

The Nigerian raced clear and Molde found themselves two-on-one with the Rovers defence. Alan Keane did brilliantly to hold his line to cut out Chima's ball to a wide open Zlatko Tripik; Molde really should have been two up.

Solksjaer may have read the riot act to his troops at half-time as they emerged all guns blazing in the second period.

Daniel Berg Hestad was brought on and took a stranglehold in midfield, first finding Vegard Forren in the area for a blocked shot then releasing Chima through the centre.

Chima looked up to find Emmanuel Ekpo coming in from the right and his powerful strike was well palmed around the post by Rogers.

The Norwegians were looking ever more comfortable, but the introduction of Raffaele Cretaro - making a welcome return from injury - injected the Irish side with a bit of energy.

The Sligo man got at the Molde defence down the left, before cutting inside and unleashing a shot that was easily saved by Orjan Haskjold between the sticks.

There was an inevitability about Molde's second when it did come.

In the 77th minute, Chima, who was outstanding over both legs, drove down the left and flicked a clever ball inside to onrushing substitute Coly who smashed it low and into the corner.

No Rovers player got anywhere near the ball or player and it underlined the gulf between the two sides.

Molde saw out the remainder of the tie in a professional manner, and despite two late half-chances for Danny North and Djilali, Sligo never looked like a side who really believed they could score and, indeed, they weren't set up to do so.

Baraclough can now concentrate on retaining the Airtricity League title for the first time in the club's history.