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Coleman insists Sligo Rovers the better side despite defeat

Updated: Friday, 25 Jul 2014 16:06 | Comments

Sligo stars John Russell and Alan Keane cut dejected figures after the defeat to Rosenborg
Sligo stars John Russell and Alan Keane cut dejected figures after the defeat to Rosenborg

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John Coleman believes his Sligo Rovers side outplayed Rosenborg over two legs in the Europa League and that the Norwegians knew how close they came to an unexpected exit.

Rosenborg overturned a 2-1 first-leg deficit to win 3-1 at the Showgrounds and progress to the third qualifying round 4-3 on aggregate, but only after Danny North had put Sligo ahead.

“Over the two legs I thought we mildly shaded it in the way the game was played,” Coleman told RTÉ Sport.

“But you’ve got to congratulate Rosenborg. They’ve come here under immense pressure and they’ve been very clinical. They took three out of five chances and you’ve got to applaud that.

“We’re disappointed with the goals we conceded but we’re not disappointed with the effort the players showed. I’m not disappointed with the passion and at times our passing was breathtaking.

“I thought we played some fantastic football but we just came up short. Our finishing and our final pass sometimes let us down and, unfortunately, they countered on us a couple of times and it cost us the tie."

The fact that the Bit O’Red only held the lead for three minutes was crucial, lamented Coleman, who thinks they would have been comfortable with a two-goal aggregate advantage at the break.

“I think the key to the game was conceding a goal when we did,” he said.

“I think if we went in at half-time a goal to the good [3-1 up on aggregate] there was only going to be one winner.

"The space would have been there to counter on them but unfortunately we gave them a shot of adrenaline and they took their chance with both hands.

“They’re a very good side. They should be, beating Sligo. And you’ve only got to see the way they celebrated after the game...

“There wouldn’t be many teams of that stature who come here and celebrate the way they did when they go through. That shows you how relieved they were.

“Good luck to them, I hope they progress on to the group stages."

Coleman said his players had enjoyed their Europa League experience, which yielded Sligo’s first win in Europe in 20 years over Banga and their first ever away win in Trondheim , and were determined to qualify again.

“What I was pleased about was the response of the players in the dressing-room after the game," he said.

"They want to taste European football again and they know that the only realistic way of doing that is by going unbeaten from now until the end of the season.

“If they’re going to buy into that, I’m going to buy into that.”

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