In a match where the onus was to build on the fantastic display in Vienna, Arsenal’s safe passage to the next round of the Europa League meant the pressure on sides like Dundalk to make an impression for that much-coveted second-place spot was very evident.
Another side with the eyes on that place was Rapid Wien whose professional and clinical and sometimes ruthless performance tonight has meant that any fledging idea of European football post-Christmas for Dundalk has been put to bed.
Dundalk made one change from the side that beat Bohemians in the FAI Cup Quarter Final with Sean Hoare stepping into the side in place of Brian Gartland.
Rapid Wien made three changes to the side that beat Dundalk 4-3 in Vienna earlier this month with Grahovac, Fountas and Ibrahimoglu in for Ljubičić, Petrovič and Arase.
Despite the dominating opening phases of attacking play from the home side, it was Rapid who got the first sight on goal when Taxiarchis Fountas let fly from the edge of the area but his effort which sent Rogers diving to ensure the post was covered went wide of the post.
Rapid didn’t need to wait long for another opportunity as Christoph Knasmüllner seizing on a misplaced pass was given ample room to advance and striking from distance it went into the top right-hand corner. Rogers was outstretched and diving but he could do nothing to deny the midfielders excellently taken effort.
Dundalk and Rapid traded exchanges on goal with Taxiarchis Fountas forcing Rogers to make a well taken to save from range while Michael Duffy low range effort was well taken by Paul Gartler.
Ercan Kara was next on hand with an opportunity on goal when his goal-bound free-kick forced an excellent save from Rogers, the experienced keeper was alert to the deflection it took en route to goal and denied Kara added to Rapid’s tally.
The striker got his opportunity once again and he made no mistake this time as a cross from the right saw Kara evade the attentions of Boyle and Hoare to head it past Rogers at the back post. Dundalk almost responded immediately when Sean Hoare’s sent in a cross from the right and the ball was met by Stefan Colovic but he can only guide his header off target, on another night it could have troubled Gartler but the attentions from the Rapid defence on the Serbian made it very difficult.
Dundalk made three changes at half time with one of them having two excellent chances to score in the opening exchanges. Nathan Oduwa headed over and seconds later he had a chance to score from the penalty spot. Daniel Kelly was adjudged to have been fouled by Mateo Barać and Oduwa stepped up for the penalty. He, however, flashed it wide of the post and Dundalk remained two goals adrift of the Austrians.
Dundalk’s chance of a come back were dented a massive blow when Ercan Kara got his second of the night, evading the attentions of his marker Sean Gannon he curled an excellent effort past Rogers.
Dundalk had chances to pull one back with an excellent move and exchange with Duffy crossing it into Sloggett who fed the ball to Daniel Kelly but he blazed his shot over.
Dundalk did get off the mark when they were awarded yet another penalty and Chris Shields stepped up this time and slammed it home to pull one back for the hosts.
It looked as if Rapid would get a fourth as Schick was denied by Gannon’s last-minute block before Gary Rogers clawed away the follow up from Kitagawa. Wien was not finished for the night and was looking to extinguish any faint hopes of a comeback. Christoph Knasmüllner had another good chance on target with a free-kick but Rogers was equal to the effort.
Daniel Kelly had a chance to bring the parity back to one after a clever one-touch pass from Sean Murray set the winger free only for his shot which took a deflection to be well saved by Gartler. Nathan Oduwa had another chance on goal in added-on time however his effort after breaking free of the defence flashed wide. He was on hand with another golden opportunity to grab a goal when a cross was sent in and Oduwa looked certain to score only for it to blaze over the crossbar.
And that was a Good Night to Vienna.
Dundalk FC: 1 Gary Rogers,4 Sean Hoare (27 Daniel Kelly 46 mins), 44 Andy Boyle, 21 Daniel Cleary, 22 Sean Gannon, 5 Chris Shields, 10 Greg Sloggett (16 Sean Murray 71 Mins), 23 Cameron Dummigan (15 Darragh Leahy 80 Mins), 22 Stefan Colovic (11 Patrick McEleney 46 mins), 29 David McMillan (17 Nathan Oduwa 46 mins), 7 Michael Duffy.
Subs: 20 Aaron McCarey, 3 Brian Gartland, 8 John Mountney, 11 Patrick McEleney, 15 Darragh Leahy, 16 Sean Murray, 17 Nathan Oduwa, 24 Jamie Wynne, 27 Daniel Kelly, 30 Jimmy Corcoran
SK Rapid Wien: 25 Paul Gartler, 22 Filip Stojković, 20 Maximilian Hofmann, 4 Mateo Barać, 31 Maximilian Ullmann, 28 Christoph Knasmüllner (48 Yusuf Demir 81 mins), 14 Srđan Grahovac, 13 Thorsten Schick, 9 Taxiarchis Fountas (42 Lion Schuster 65 mins), 40 Melih Ibrahimoglu (36 Kelvin Arase 54 mins), 29 Ercan Kara (42 Lion Schuster 65 mins).