CSKA v St Pat’s, Viking FK v Sligo, Europa Conference League

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5:21PM

Hello, and welcome to our liveblog on another big night for Irish sides in Europe.

We’ll be covering Shamrock Rovers in a separate liveblog later, but for now, we’re focusing on the Europa Conference League with both Irish sides’ games set to kick off at 6pm.

We’ll focus primarily on St Pat’s, as they travel to face CSKA Sofia, while also keeping an eye on Sligo’s encounter away to the Norwegian side Viking.

Both League of Ireland teams have done well simply to get this far — neither would have been favorites in the last round, as Sligo upset Motherwell and the Saints overcame Tottenham’s conquerors from last year Mura.

The goal this evening for both will surely be to just keep the tie alive ahead of the second leg back home.

It won’t be easy. Bulgarian football is a decent standard, as Shamrock Rovers found out recently when they were dumped out of the Champions League by Ludogorets. And CSKA showed their quality in the previous round with a 4-0 aggregate victory over Makedonija Gjorče Petrov.

Similarly, Viking, who beat Sparta Prague in the second round, will be very tough opponents for John Russell’s men.

5:31PM

Confirmation of the Pat’s and Sligo teams below…

5:41PM

tim-clancy-during-the-warm-up

St Pat’s coaches during the warm-up.

Source: Kostadin Andonov/INPHO

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6:07PM

VIKING 1-0 SLIGO (TRIPIC 4)

6:09PM

A bad start for Sligo.

An initial shot from the edge of the area is saved by McNicholas, but it’s parried straight into the path of Zlatko Tripicwho slots home an easy tap-in.

6:11PM

There hasn’t been too much of note in Pat’s game so far.

Tim Clancy’s men have largely sat back and allowed the hosts possession.

As I type however, the Irish side break but Billy King’s shot is off target.

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6:11PM

VIKING 2-0 SLIGO (FRIDJONSSON 8)

6:14PM

It’s been a nightmare start for Sligo.

Tripic is involved again. This time, his low cross finds Fridjonssonwho shows some neat footwork to evade the defender’s challenge before firing an unstoppable finish into the roof of the net.

6:17PM

Meanwhile, in Bulgaria, Pat’s have had a much better start than the Bit O’Red.

CSKA have not carved out any clear-cut opportunities yet, with the visitors doing well to frustrate them.

6:20PM

Forrester plays a clever pass through to Cotter, but he misses his cross and it goes harmlessly out of play.

The pitch in Bulgaria doesn’t look great from this vantage point and may have been a factor in that instance.

6:23PM

In Norway, Aidan Keena goes from the spectacular goal, but his effort from the edge of the area misses the top corner by a few inches.

Moments later, another blow for Sligo. Garry Buckley is down injured and looks like he won’t be able to continue.

6:27PM

Confirmation that Buckley has been stretchered off after coming off worse in a 50:50 challenge with Tripic. Nando Pijnaker replaces him.

That’s Sligo’s second enforced change of the evening, as Adam McDonnell went off injured earlier and was replaced by Max Mata.

6:28PM

a-view-of-the-travelling-st-patricks-athletic-fans-at-the-game

A view of the traveling St. Patrick’s Athletic fans at the game.

Source: Kostadin Andonov/INPHO

6:35PM

Pat’s continue to look solid in Sofia.

As expected, the hosts have dominated possession while lacking a cutting edge.

As I type though, Maurício Garcez’s shot from the edge of the area is spilled by Anang, but the goalkeeper is fouled by Thibaut Vion as he attempts to gather it at the second attempt.

6:37PM

Half chance for Sligo.

A corner falls into the path of Mata, but goalkeeper Gunnarsson is alert and smothers the ball before the substitute can get a clean shot away.

6:39PM

Another good effort from Keena.

It breaks for the striker on the edge of the area and his subsequent powerful shot goes inches over the bar.

6:40PM

billy-king-reacts-to-a-missed-chance

St. Patrick’s Athletic’s Billy King reacts to a missed chance.

Source: Kostadin Andonov/INPHO

6:44PM

Pat’s have been under the basket a bit more in recent minutes.

There have been plenty of corners and balls into the box, but they have defended very well to keep the hosts at bay.

6:46 a.mPM

samuel-fridjonsson-celebrates-scoring-their-second-goal

Viking’s Samúel Fridjónsson celebrates scoring their second goal.

Source: NTB/Carina Johansen/INPHO

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6:48PM

HALF-TIME: CSKA 0-0 ST PAT’S

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6:51PM

HALF TIME: VIKING 2-0 SLIGO

6:56PM

So half-time in both games.

Pat’s will be pretty happy with the opening 45. While CSKA have controlled the game, they’ve struggled to create clear-cut chances, with the Irish side defending impressively and putting in a real shift off the ball.

It’s a different story for Sligo, however. A disastrous opening eight minutes saw them concede twice with two well-taken goals from the hosts’ perspective.

John Russell’s side have calmed the storm to a degree since then while creating occasional half chances.

Nevertheless, Viking have looked the far superior side based on that first half overall, with the Bit O’Red leaving themselves with a mountain to climb as they look to get back into this tie.

7:03PM

The second half is underway…

7:06PM

garry-buckley-goes-off-injured

Source: NTB/Carina Johansen/INPHO

7:11PM

Pat’s have started the second half well.

Breslin plays in a dangerous free kick that Forrester can’t quite get a decisive touch on.

Moments later, O’Reilly threatens to sprint through on goal, but the defender gets back to make a good recovery challenge.

7:12PM

joseph-anang-makes-a-save

St Patrick’s Athletic goalkeeper Joseph Anang makes a save.

Source: Kostadin Andonov/INPHO

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7:15PM

VIKING 3-0 SLIGO (TRAORE 53)

7:18PM

Tripic is the provider again. He makes a good run down the left before his cross finds Mai Traorewho converts with ease.

Unfortunately, that could already seal the tie for the Norwegians. It would take a minor miracle for Sligo to win it from this position.

7:22PM

Nervy moment for CSKA.

Forrester plays a through ball for Doyle, whose finish comes off the crossbar.

The linesman’s flag was up for offside anyway, but that’s another indication of Pat’s positive play.

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7:23PM

VIKING 4-0 SLIGO (SANDBERG 60)

7:25PM

This is turning into a really bad night for Sligo.

A well-worked flowing move ends with Sandberg curling a fine finish into the corner of the net.

The Bit O’Red sadly have looked out of their depth at times this evening.

7:30PM

A rare nervous moment for Pat’s.

A Bamba through ball causes panic with the ball taking a few ricochets before going out of play.

Less than 20 minutes of normal time now for the Saints to hang on for what would be an excellent result.

7:33PM

Pat’s make a change.

16-year-old Sam Curtis comes on in place of Harry Brockbank.

7:35PM

Another cross into the area from CSKA is overhit.

The hosts have really lacked quality in the final third this evening.

7:39PM

Billy King breaks and goes on a mad individual run.

He has options to his left and right but instead shoots just over the bar from just outside the box.

It’s his last action of the game, as he’s replaced by Serge Atakayi.

7:41PM

Close!

CSKA loses the ball in a dangerous area.

O’Reilly then plays it through to Doyle, who shoots over inside the area.

That’s probably their best chance so far.

7:44PM

A free kick in a good position is wasted as Breslin puts it straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.

Pat’s are finishing strongly.

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7:44PM

CSKA 0-1 PAT’S (ATAKAYI 87)

7:48PM

Pat’s are on the verge of a famous victory!

It comes from a hopeful long ball.

Donchev tries to head it back to the goalkeeper, but it’s short, and I attacked shows great pace to get to the ball first, going past the goalkeeper and putting it into the net.

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7:50PM

VIKING 5-0 SLIGO (AUSTBO 87)

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7:51PM

VIKING 5-1 SLIGO (CAWLEY 89)

7:54PM

Two goals in quick succession in a tie that’s effectively all over.

Austbo curls in a fine finish from the edge of the area.

Then moments later, Sligo win a penalty which Cawley slots home.

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7:54PM

FULL-TIME: CSKA SOFIA 0-1 ST PAT’S

FULL-TIME: VIKING 5-1 SLIGO

53 minutes ago

Here’s a look at the winning goal…

49 mins ago

So that’s that.

A forgettable night for Sligo, as they were ultimately well beaten by a better team and appeared to have no chance of going through barring a miracle.

Pat’s, on the other hand, have put themselves in a hugely promising position.

A gutsy display largely restricted CSKA to half-chances and they finished strongly, to the point that Atakayi’s winning goal, when it came, was not against the run of play by any means.

They can’t afford to get too carried away of course, with 90 minutes to play in Tallaght, but they still should savor tonight amid what is surely one of the best standalone results ever from an Irish side playing in Europe.

47 mins ago

Right, that’s all from me for now.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

We’ll have more reaction to follow and you can read our Pat’s match report here.

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