By Aidan Fitzmaurice
Cork City FC eliminated Swedish opposition from European competition for the second year in a row with a scoreless draw that was enough to send the Irish outfit into Friday's UEFA Cup draw at the expense of Djurgårdens IF.
A precious away goal from Neale Fenn in the first leg in Sweden was the key to Cork's success which sees them progress on away goals for the second time in their history.
Djurgården had a number of senior internationals on show but Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Liam Kearney was the best player on the pitch as he tormented the Swedish defence with his pacy runs on the left wing. However, London-born full-back Danny Murphy was also a hero for the Irish club as he made a crucial tackle 12 minutes from the end to deny Mattias Jonson what looked a certain goal.
Desperate to progress, the Swedish had Cork under pressure early on. Tobias Hysén - son of former Liverpool FC and Sweden defender Glen - had a shot on eleven minutes but fired wide, and two minutes later Marcus Johannesson also went close.
But then Cork settled as former Tottenham Hotspur FC man Fenn almost broke the deadlock with a free-kick on 17 minutes, and just after that saw his glancing header go wide of Pa Dembo Tourray's goal.
Cork suffered a major blow ten minutes into the second half when defender Alan Bennett was forced to withdraw through injury. City boss Damien Richardson refused to change his attacking policy, however, and brought on a forward in Roy O'Donovan, asking midfield player Greg O'Halloran to fill in at the back.
On 58 minutes Hysén had a superb chance to give his side the lead but he headed weakly at goalkeeper Mick Devine. Just minutes later the Djurgården forward was put through on goal again, but this time he fired wide.
Cork then went on the attack, Fenn forcing a superb save from Tourray on 76 minutes with a well-struck free-kick. Two minutes later Irish defender Murphy executed a brilliant tackle on the goalline to deny Jonson, a crucial intervention as the Swedes could not find a way past Devine in the closing moments.
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