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Cork City defender Alan Bennett says the first half of their Europa League clash with KRC Genk at Turner's Cross "the worst 45 minutes of our season".
The League of Ireland team went down 2-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate against the Belgians, who finished finished fifth in the Jupiler League last season.
Genk, who were 1-0 up from last week's third qualifying round first leg, netted the crucial away goal through Thomas Buffel's 13th minute strike, before Sebastien Dewaest made it 2-0 on the night just before half-time.
John Caulfield's side needed three goals in the second half but only managed one, a Bennett header on 62 minutes, and Genk even contrived to miss a penalty in injury-time as Neeskens Kebano slammed his spot-kick against the crossbar.
"That 1st half was probably the worst 45 mins we've had all season." - @ABenno15. #CORKvGENK #LOIinEurope https://t.co/LdU2ZSkJQf
— eir Sport (@eirSport) August 4, 2016
"That first half performance was not anywhere near what we are, and what we are capable of," Bennett told eir Sport.
"Perhaps the occasion got the better of us, maybe, but you can't start the way we started against a team of this quality, because you get punished.
"That the big disappointment - it is probably the worst 45 minutes we have had this season, and it is just a bad time to have it."
Cork boss Caulfield feels his side were always up against it after failing to score in the first leg in Belgium.
"We have had a nightmare 30-35 minutes, and in Europe it is vital to score away because we needed three when they got the first goal," he told eir Sport.
"We lost some shape, we were a small bit all over the place, and I just felt that, when we gave that silly goal away at half-time, it was all over really.
"We had a couple of chances to score in that first leg, and so, even if we had gone down 1-0 here, we would still have been in the match.
"We changed our style a little bit after half-time as we said let’s forget about the score, go out there and just try and get back in the game," he continued.
"We scored one and possibly could have gotten a second but you could see the quality in Genk’s team, overall we hold our hands up and accept we were beaten by a better team."
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