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Fagan fires Saints' bid

BRAZILIAN dangerman Wagner popped up right at the death to deny St Patrick's Athletic a famous away win in Bosnia but the Inchicore side remain firmly in the driving seat of this Europa League second qualifying round tie, thanks to Christy Fagan's precious goal.

It was a superb performance from the Saints over 90 minutes against Siroki Brijeg in balmy Bosnian weather but the late goal from the hosts means this tie is very much in the balance.

It could have been so much better for Liam Buckley's men after Fagan's 12th-minute opener. John Russell had a great chance to give Pats an advantage but his penalty was poorly struck.

They also had the advantage of an extra man after Mladen Jurcevic's red card in the 43rd minute.

It all means that the Saints are just a clean sheet away from progressing to the Europa League's third qualifying round next Thursday.

The assessment of Pat's midfielder Sean O'Connor after the game on Twitter best summed up the disappointment in the camp.

"Tough to take, conceding last minute! But still a great result and confident we can finish the job at home! Nice to see a few Irish here," he wrote.



Tempting

Even though they won't be tempting fate, Pats will be keeping one eye on today's draw for the third round of qualifying. The Saints began in confident mood and by the 11th minute they were gifted a glorious opportunity to take the lead when Vedran Jese handled Sean O'Connor's cross from the right.

Up stepped John Russell but his tamely struck shot was comfortably saved by Siroki netminder Luka Bilobrk, who guessed correctly.

The goalie would turn from hero to villain for the hosts shortly afterwards, however, when Christy Fagan, returning from a hip injury, dispossessed Siroki midfielder Bertosa and took off towards goal.

He laid the ball off for Russell who unleashed a low drive that was too hot for Bilobrk to handle and Fagan neatly tucked the loose ball home from eight yards.

The small section of travelling Saints fans went ballistic behind the goal and the strike provided the catalyst for more Pats dominance.



Lively

Brendan Clarke made two routine saves from Jurcevic and Coric before the break and Pats were given a further boost just before the interval when Jurcevic was given a second yellow card for a foul on the lively Fagan.

Chris Forrester tried his luck just before the change of ends but this time Bilobrk was equal to it.

Forrester came a lot closer at the beginning of the second half when his curling left-foot effort cannoned back off the post.

Siroki introduced Ricardo Baiano and his pace began causing Liam Buyckley's men a few problems and Clarke was forced into a good save.

Conor Kenna denied Bloudek late on with a superb block but Wagner had the final say to keep this two-legged affair very much alive.