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Cliftonville 0-3 DAC [1-5 on aggregate]

Cliftonville were eliminated from the Europa Conference League as DAC produced a slick goalscoring display to seal a 5-1 aggregate success at Solitude this evening.

Though the score on the night was harsh on the Reds, what wasn’t in question was the standard of finishing from the Slovakian Fortuna Liga outfit who, having netted two beauties in their first leg victory at MOL Arena last time out, banked arguably the best European strike ever registered at Solitude en route to this evening’s 3-0 win.

Despite being under the cosh early on, DAC found the net with their first real attack – Dominik Veselovsky scoring via the base of the post – and the visitors similarly weathered another storm in the second-half before substitute Nikola Krstovic blasted in a sensational long-range effort with his first touch.

The Montenegrin international striker, who had blasted home the winner in Dunajska Streda last week, then completed the scoring in the tie with a late penalty to put the seal on DAC’s progression to a second qualifying round date with Vikingur of the Faroe Islands.

Cliftonville’s night had started brightly and, roared on by a noisy home crowd, they set about closing the aggregate deficit right from the start; Jamie McDonagh and Stephen Mallon offering twin threats on either flank, with Ronan Hale going close with a near-post flick in the opening minutes.

Despite appearing on the ropes during those early exchanges, it was the visitors who would open the scoring when, against the run of play, Norbert Balogh teed Veselovsky up for an effort he calmly stroked in off the woodwork.

Undeterred, the Reds’ positive performance continued and Levi Ives drew a save from Daniel Veszelinov before Fynn Talley denied Miroslav Kacer at the other end.

McDonagh tried his luck twice – calling Veszelinov into action before sending a long-range strike wide – with Talley again thwarting Kacer ahead of Hale and Luke Turner keeping DAC’s keeper busy.

The second-half began with Mallon going close with one attempt before bringing an excellent stop out of Veszelinov with another, while Talley excelled himself when he turned a point-blank Milan Diman shot against the crossbar following a goalmouth scramble.

Ronan Hale sent a blistering blast whistling just over the top, with Talley getting his angles right to keep Balogh’s name off the scoresheet before a questionable offside flag saw a lobbed effort from substitute Joe Gormley ruled out.

Within a minute, the tie was over as a contest thanks to a sensational finish from Krstovic who, upon receiving possession at an angle outside the box, unleashed an unstoppable rocket that gave DAC a three-goal cushion.

Cliftonville continued to take the game to the visitors, though, and both Cricky Gallagher and Hale were unsuccessful with attempts from distance before Martin Rymarenko became the latest DAC player to be kept at bay by Talley.

In the final minute, however, the Cliftonville goalkeeper was rather harshly booked for a foul on Kacer, who had stumbled for approximately 15 yards after initially losing his footing outside the box, which allowed Krstovic to step up and complete the night’s action by converting from the penalty spot.

Cliftonville: Talley, Ives, Addis (Robinson, 82 mins), Gallagher (Casey, 83 mins), R Curran, McDonagh (C Curran, 83 mins), Lowe (Rory Hale, 69 mins), Doherty (Gormley, 54 mins), Turner, Ronan Hale, Mallon. Unused subs: McKenna, O’Neill, Foster, Coates, McGuinness.