AZ Alkmaar 1-1 Dundalk, 15 September
The Lilywhites were handed a testing start to their Europa League campaign but turned in a stunning performance which saw them become the first ever Irish team to claim a point in the group stages of European competition.
Substitute Ciaran Kilduff came off the bench to bag ten-man Dundalk a late equaliser.
Trailing to a Stijn Whitens’ goal on the hour mark, it looked like Dundalk’s group stage campaign was going to get off to a losing start when captain Stephen O’Donnell was dismissed with 19 minutes to play.
However, Stephen Kenny’s men showed real guts to hang on and Kilduff made his mark in the 89th minute, rising to glance a Daryl Horgan free-kick past Sergio Rochet to stun the hosts and write Dundalk’s name into the record books.
Dundalk 1-0 M Tel-Aviv, 29 September
This was the result that announced Dundalk on the European stage and one that should give them real hope heading into tonight’s game with the same opponents.
Ciaran Kilduff was again the hero as he side-footed home from close range following some fine build-up play from Daryl Horgan.
It was a thoroughly deserved result and one which the Lilywhites never looked like giving up once they got in front.
Dane Masey did have to be alert to clear off the line with five minutes to go but the game finished with Dundalk in the ascendancy and the home side could even afford to see John Mountney spurn a golden chance in the dying minutes.
Dundalk 1-2 Zenit St Petersburg, 20 October
A game which proved just how far Stephen Kenny’s men have come as a team as they were disappointed after losing by the odd goal to a side who are Champions League regulars and who have run away with Group D.
With 71 minutes played, it looked like Dundalk would pull off the biggest result in the club’s history.
Ahead through Robbie Benson’s third European goal of the season, Stephen Kenny’s side were good value for their lead.
However, a costly error by goalkeeper Gabriel Sava a minute later allowed the Russian giants back into the game before Brazilian Giuliano broke Dundalk hearts with 13 minutes to go.
Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 Dundalk, 3 November
The second of a back-to-back meeting with the Russian champions again proved just how fine the margins can be in European football.
Dundalk had looked comfortable without threatening for much of the first half and appeared set to go into the break level before a mistake from Brian Gartland afforded Giuliano the kind of chance he doesn’t waste.
Daryl Horgan, who had just been rewarded for his outstanding form with a place in the Ireland squad, levelled with a cool finish on the break but from there on out it was all Zenit.
The winner came with 12 minutes on the clock from that man Giuliano again as he tapped home from five yards out to break Dundalk hearts.
Dundalk 0-1 AZ Alkmaar, 24 November
More than any other match in their European campaign, Dundalk will be disappointed with how this one went.
They should have been fresh after an almost three-week break at the end of a hectic season but looked slow and lethargic and never really seemed to threaten.
Ciaran Kilduff was preferred over David McMillan up front and he never looked like having the pace to threaten a solid Alkmaar defence and struggled to hold up the ball when it was played to him.
The game’s only goal came on nine minutes when Dundalk switched off at the back and allowed the ball to drop from a cross. It bounced back off the foot of Dane Massey and into the path of Wout Weghorst, who slid it to the back of the net.
Despite having 81 minutes to get back into the game, Dundalk never really threatened and Stephen Kenny will now that a performance of that ilk that will be enough tonight.