Dundalk have had little time to enjoy their European triumph over Riga last week and are back in Champions League qualification action against Azerbaijani champions Qarabag tonight.

Latvian side Riga offered a stern test for Vinny Perth's men and matched Dundalk over two legs and extra-time, before the penalty heroics of Gary Rodgers and the nerve of Sean Hoare from the spot made the difference.

However the Lilywhites now face a step-up in the quality of opposition when they welcome Qarabag to Oriel Park (kick-off 7.45pm).

The Azerbaijani club have won their domestic league for the last six seasons and during that time have been regulars at the group stages of European football.

Famously drawn with Chelsea, Roma and Atletico Madrid in the group stage of the Champions League in 2017, Qarabag took on a central role in that group as their two draws with the Spanish giants proved to be decisive in who qualified for the knock-out phase.

Edged out by BATE Borisov 2-1 on aggregate in last year's Champions League play-off round, Qarabag had to settle for a place in the Europa League group stage, and it’s a measure of the quality of their side that this was viewed as a disappointment for them.

A team comprised of the best Azerbaijan internationals along with a handful of Spanish, Brazilian and French players, they are a side built for the biggest stage in European football and are targeting a return to Champions League group football.

It might be argued that it’s Dundalk’s misfortune to be in the way of a side ranked 57 places above them in the UEFA coefficients. There are certainly kinder draws that the Lilywhites could have been handed but head coach Vinny Perth believes his side can match their opponents and hopes home support could make a significant difference.

"Dundalk is a special place on European nights," he told RTÉ Sport. "The town is painted black and white, flags everywhere and you can’t walk down town without having to stop and discuss the games, which is brilliant. That’s what we want. We want to embrace Champions League football."

He is however under no illusions the nature of the task facing his team.

"It's a very difficult tie but, here in Oriel, we’ll have a right go off them and we feel that there are some areas we can exploit them. At the same time we’re very understanding that they are a good side who will own the ball for a lot of the time."

Andy Boyle's return is well timed for Dundalk

Perth’s biggest hope will be that his side can keep a clean sheet. Holding Riga scoreless over two legs bodes well to that end and the Dundalk defence has really been strengthened by the return of Andy Boyle.

After two-and-a-half years with Preston North End, Boyle has slotted straight back into heart of the Dundalk defence.

The understanding shown between Boyle and the man who was originally signed as his replacement, Sean Hoare, was clear for all to see.

Boyle and Hoare turned in the kind of display against Riga that belied the fact the two had never actually played together before and both will have to produce that kind of performance again if they are to keep Qarabag scoreless.

There is hope for the home supporters however. The Azerbaijan season has yet to start and Qarabag are bedding in a number of new players so Dundalk should be at a higher level of match fitness and preparation.

Qarabag were sluggish in their first round tie against FK Partizani, a club ranked well below Dundalk in the UEFA coefficients.

Partizani were able to claim a scoreless draw at home and frustrated their opponents in Albania, but couldn’t hold out against them in Baku where they were beaten 2-0.

Croatian midfielder Filip Ozobić and Spanish attacker Dani Quintana made the breakthrough for Qarabag in the second-half but they never looked convincing in attack and with Hoare and Boyle at the back, Dundalk should be optimistic that they can at least take a draw into the second leg.

The Lilywhites will again be able to call on the services of winger Michael Duffy, who missed the second leg with Brann to be at the birth of his baby.

Perth looks set to go for a no-risk line-up with the possibility of both Chris Shields and Robbie Benson holding things down in midfield while Duffy and John Mountenay are likely to be tasked with providing the width.

Patrick Hoban will lead the line and looks set for a tough physical battle against the Qarabag defence, and is relishing the challenge.

"These are the nights that you dream of playing in. You have to make sure you are 100% on it because if you're not, you’ll get punished very easily

"We have gone through every detail of Qarabag during the week and everyone is rearing to go."

Penalty hero Rodgers will start in goal and will set a new European appearance record by a League of Ireland player, having matched Ollie Cahill with 41 against Riga.

There's no question that this is a very daunting game for Dundalk and with the much more enticing prospect of facing either APOEL of Cyprus or Sutjeska of Montenegro in the third round, the Lilywhites will be desperate to ensure that the tie is still alive going into the second leg next week.

Follow Dundalk v FK Qarabag with our live blog on RTÉ Sport Online and the RTÉ News Now app