NORWAY WE'RE OUT; CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUAL. RND 2: SLIGO R 0 MOLDE FK 1; Baraclough's Men Show Enough to Give Themselves Hope of Making History Becoming First Irish Side to Overcome a Home Defeat to Qualify on Foreign Soil
Byline: PAUL O'HEHIR firstname.lastname@example.org
DOWN, but not out.
The odds are stacked against them but Sligo Rovers have a glimmer of hope going to Norway next week albeit they were flattered by Molde's slender margin of victory.
No League of Ireland team has ever overturned a home first-leg deficit in Europe's premier club competition to advance to the next round but Ian Baraclough has vowed to rewrite history.
Granted Molde were content to sit back in the second-half and protect their 42nd minute lead, but the Bit O'Red applied enough late pressure to suggest an away goal is not a fanciful notion.
But in turn, Molde could and should have been out of sight at half-time and Rovers were blessed that Gary Rogers was on his game as it would have been curtains otherwise.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men showed their full hand here. What you saw is what they've got. You sense there was not much being held back in reserve for Tuesday.
In theory that should fill Baraclough and his players with a degree of confidence, but if Molde can create that many chances in the first-half away from home, what will they be like at home?
Their front men had more than enough about them last night to suggest they will hit the net in the second leg so the onus is on Sligo to beat them out of the traps.
The warning signs were evident from the start as Sligo kept coughing up possession, needlessly so and often when in no real danger.
Joseph Ndo - so often their go to guy - was culpable more than most although he became far more influential in the second-half and drove Sligo on in their pursuit of an equaliser.
But too often in those early stages he attempted ambitious passes when a simple ball would have let the hosts breathe easy. And while Molde blew hot and cold at times, their attackers were always clinical.
Not least the goal scorer Chukwu, the 22-year-old Nigerian, who was a constant menace.
He could have opened Molde's account after six minutes only for Evan McMillan to steal the ball off his toe just as he was winding up to shoot from a stray Ndo ball.
But gradually Sligo became more of a force and driven o n by Lee Lynch, they had Molde of occasions as the half wore on.
Jeff Henderson - picked at fullback ahead of Alan Keane - burst into the Norwegian half and, after a neat Anthony Elding layoff, Dave McMillan forced a full stretch save from Orjan Nyland.
It was better from Sligo who deployed McMillan wide on the right of a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Elding the lone target man as neither Danny North or Raffaele Cretaro were passed fit. …