UEFA Europa League Third Qualifying Rnd 1st Leg
St Patrick's Athletic 0-3 Hannover 96
Chris Fagan couldn't get one over his former Manchester United colleague Ron-Robert Zieler on Thursday night at Tallaght Stadium as St. Patrick's Athletic slipped towards the Europa League exit door.
The pair were on the books of United together during their late teens before leaving for pastures new.
Goalkeeper Zieler has ended up at Hannover 96 and it's his team, rather than Fagan's Saints, who hold a commanding lead heading into next week's return leg in Germany.
This third qualifying round first leg angled the way of the visitors after only six minutes.
St Pat's boss Liam Buckley, who named an unchanged side from last week's win over Bosnians Siroki Brijeg, had stressed in the build up to the game his side needed to keep possession of the ball as best they could.
Starting a little nervously, however, the Saints failed to do precisely that and were duly punished early by a side containing some 248 international caps between them.
Hannover carved St Pat's open with their first attack as Lars Stindl burst through the middle. His pass was laid off by Didier Ya Konan for Leon Andreasen. And the 29-year-old Danish international, playing his first game in two-and-a-half years following injury, took a touch before finding the top right-hand corner of Brendan Clarke's net with a rising right foot drive from 20 yards.
It was the perfect start for the Bundesliga side and, conversely, exactly what St Pat's needed to avoid.
But the Inchicore side regained their composure, growing in confidence as the half wore on, creating their first opening on 29 minutes.
The impressive John Russell's delightful ball picked out the run inside from winger Sean O'Connor who curled a shot wide of keeper Ron-Robert Zieler's far post.
St Pat's then had a shout for a penalty, when Stindl appeared to handle the ball on the ground from an Ian Bermingham cross, waved away by the Hungarian referee on 35 minutes as they played their way into the game.
Two minutes later Greg Bolger tried an ambitious effort from 35 yards that worked Zieler into a comfortable save, albeit at a stretch.
But St Pat's ought to have been level within three minutes of the start of the second half from their first corner of the game.
Hannover failed to deal with Sean O'Connor's delivery which fell to Christy Fagan. But the little striker, who's scored three times during this campaign, saw his close-range shot blocked by Stindl.
Despite the Saints now enjoying their best spell of possession in the game, they had a right let off on 61 minutes.
Pinto's sublime through ball put substitute Konstantin Rausch clean through on goal. One-on-one with Clarke, St Pat's were relieved to see the winger rifle wide.
But St Pat's were utterly deflated when conceding a dreadful second goal on 68 minutes. Left-back Christian Pander, who scored on his Germany debut against England with his powerful left foot, found the net with a low free kick from some 30 yards.
Buckley's side nonetheless battled hard to get back into the game and Fagan raced through to angle a shot wide across goal on 75 minutes.
However, the tie was effectively over with Hannover scoring a third goal on 80 minutes. A shot from Rausch ricocheted into the path of Ya Konan and the Ivorian turned to shoot to the net from close in.
ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC: Clarke; O'Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Russell, Chambers, Bolger (Flood 83); Forrester (Carroll 87), Fagan, O'Connor (Meenan 69).
HANNOVER 96: Zieler; Cherundolo, Haggui, Eggimann, Pander; Stindl, Pinto, Andreasen (Schmiedebach 72), Huszti (Rausch 57); Ya Konan, Schlaudraff (Abdellaoue 69).
REFEREE: TamÃ¡s Bognar (Hungary).
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