Despite having large spells of possession and spurning plenty of chances, St Patrick’s Athletic's European adventure is all but over after suffering a 3-0 defeat in the first leg of their Europa League Third qualifying round tie with German side Hannover 96.
The visitors showed their superior quality and class as they ruthlessly punished Liam Buckley’s side to take firm control of the tie.
Both sides looked to get the ball down and play in the opening exchanges; however it was the Bundesliga side who landed the early blow inside six minutes. Danish international Leon Andreasen was given far too much time and space outside the Pat's area and he needed no invitation to fire past Brendan Clarke from 25 yards.
Before the game Saints boss Buckley emphasised the importance of his players keeping possession of the ball when they got hold of it and despite suffering the early setback, the home side fought their way back into the game with some nice spells of passing. Their first real sight of goal came just before the half hour mark when some nice interplay between John Russell and Sean O’Connor, led to the latter finding some space inside the box but his left footed effort went narrowly wide of the upright.
Christy Fagan’s close range effort moments after the interval should have brought the Airtricity League side level before a James Chambers cross caused havoc in the Hannover box but it was the visitors who scored the crucial second away goal. Greg Bolger conceded a free kick 40 yards out before Christian Pander fired past Clarke.
Liam Buckley’s Saints didn’t lie down though and probably should have pulled one back with a quarter of the game remaining as Fagan’s effort from twelve yards out skimmed the upright with Ron-Robert Zieler beaten.
Hannover 96 finished eighth in the Bundesliga last campaign as well as making the quarter-finals of the Europa League and they wrapped up the game with ten minutes remaining. Brendan Clarke could only parry Rausch’s shot to another substitute, Didier Ya Konan to slot home.
The second leg takes place next Thursday 9 August with a 20.30 BST kick off.