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A brave Dundalk have been knocked out of the Champions League after they drew 1-1 with Legia Warsaw, whilst Celtic edged through 5-4 on aggregate despite losing 2-0 on the night to Hapoel Beer Sheva.
Stephen Kenny’s side went into the game knowing two goals without reply would take the tie to extra-time, and despite not been able to capitalise on two early free-kicks, the Lilywhites looked dangerous in patches.
A courageous first half performance from Dundalk, who were without captain Stephen O’Donnell, highlighted their fighting spirit and they were rewarded when Robbie Benson scored a spectacular volley from just inside the area.
At times, Dundalk had to dig deep, and this was evident when goalkeeper Gary Rogers produced a wonderful save from Adam Hlousek.
It took both sides 15 minutes to settle into the second half, and Dundalk could have scored a crucial second goal, Benson’s acrobatic attempt just going over the bar.
Besnik Hasi would have been livid when his side were reduced to ten men after Hlousek unnecessarily pulled Ronan Finn to the ground.
The Airtricity League side, with a one-man advantage, pushed on with minutes remaining and this cost them when a quick counter attack from Warsaw in stoppage time was finished off with a cool finish from Michal Kucharczyk.
Dundalk will now go into Friday's Europa League group stages draw where they could end up facing Manchester United.
The deadlock was broken after just 19 minutes when David McMillian’s header at the back-post was met by the arriving Benson who smashed his volley into the bottom corner.
It could have been level moments later when Hlousek rifled a shot from outside the box towards the top-corner, only to be met with a brilliant one-handed save by Rogers.
Dundalk were handed a huge advantage when Hlousek received a second yellow card after he threw Finn to the ground.
Legia cemented their place in the Champions’ League group stage in stoppage time after they a quick counter-attack from their own half was finished off by Kucharczyk whose right-footed effort rattled the back of the Dundalk net.
Meanwhile, Celtic booked their place in the last 32 despite losing 2-0 to Hapoel Beer Sheva, escaping narrowly with a 5-4 win on aggregate.
The Hoops found themselves 1-0 behind in the first half when Ben Sahar's powerful header proved too strong for Craig Gordon.
Gordon, despite saving a penalty earlier in the first half, had to pick the ball out of his net for the second time when Ovidiu Hoban capitalised on the ‘keepers poor take.
Celtic managed to hang on to their slender lead and will now be in the pot for the Champions League draw, which takes place in Monaco on Thursday.
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