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Rapid Vienna 4 Dundalk 3 Dundalk boss Filippo Giovagnoli hits back at critics as his side lose in Vienna


Dundalk coach Filippo Giovagnoli REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Dundalk coach Filippo Giovagnoli REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Dundalk coach Filippo Giovagnoli REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Dundalk were dramatically denied a first point of the Europa League group stage after conceding two late goals in a narrow 4-3 loss at Rapid Vienna.

Rapid duo Maximilian Hofmann and Yusuf Demir ensured it would be a fruitless trip to the Austrian capital for Filippo Giovagnoli’s side by each striking inside the final four minutes.

David McMillan’s 82nd-minute penalty had looked set to earn the Irish side a share of the spoils after goals from Kelvin Arase and Dejan Ljubicic overturned Pat Hoban’s early headed opener.

During a hectic end to the contest, substitute McMillan pulled another goal back from the spot deep into added time but the damage had already been done.

Defeat at Allianz Stadion leaves pointless Dundalk bottom of Group B after three matches, while Rapid earned their first points of the competition.

On the back of losses to Norwegian club Molde and Premier League giants Arsenal, the Lilywhites were looking to kickstart their European campaign.

They made a perfect start as forward Hoban headed home a cross from captain Chris Shields inside seven minutes.

After Rapid skipper Ljubicic rifled home from distance to level 15 minutes later, Michael Duffy wasted a couple of presentable opportunities to restore the away side’s advantage.

Those misses became even more costly 11 minutes from time when Rapid went ahead through Arase’s close-range header, although McMillan quickly equalised with his first penalty of the evening after he was fouled in the box by substitute Mario Sonnleitner.

Greg Sloggett then squandered a free header to put Dundalk ahead before Hofmann nodded in and Demir stroked home to wrap up Rapid’s victory.

A frustrating evening for the visitors ended with a consolation goal as McMillan converted from 12 yards with the last kick of the game following a foul on substitute Nathan Oduwa.

Dunldak boss Giovagnoli suggested questions over his team selection and tactics were misplaced, as he suggested his side are trying to breach a huge quality divide in the Europa League.

"I don't know if you understand the difference between a club like Dundalk and Rapid Vienna and Molde," he moaned.

"Are you checking the budget, the value and everything? It's a big merit for the players that they are able to compete against these giants.

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"We had a great performance, the team deserve more than what happened at the end but now we understand we can compete.

"We came with a plan, we played, the result is not good for us but looking forward into the future, we can do that with more positivity.

"We had three good performances. Can we pretend to qualify for the knockout round? Of course not, we are playing against teams who are European giants but we can compete at this level and we will be dangerous until the end, trust me.

"Sometimes you need a bit of luck. I trust work more than luck but you do need luck. Tonight was not our night but the performance was a great one, I am proud of all the players and I am looking forward to the next games where we can compete."

Dundalk have now lost all three of their Europa League group matches after previous defeats against Molde and Arsenal.

In other Group B game on Thursday night, Arsenal beat Molde 4-1 at Emirates Stadium.

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