An early David McMillan strike saw Dundalk overcome Inter Club d'Escalades at the Estadi Comunal in Andorra.
Filippo Giovagnoli’s side were full value for the win but failed to capitalise on their early goal as the game became overshadowed by the performance of Belarusian referee Viktor Shimusik, who produced 10 yellow cards throughout including reds to either side.
It was the harsh 58th dismissal of Andy Boyle that threatened to cost the Lilywhites, who had dominated up to that point with just one shot against them at that stage of the game.
Despite their numerical advantage, Inter Club - who also had Genís Soldevila sent-off in the 93rd minute - failed to cut through a stubborn Dundalk defence.
Thankfully the failure of the visitors to capitalise on a series of fine chances after McMillan's strike didn’t cost them as they secured a €280,000 pay day and another European outing in Transnistria on Thursday.
The Louth men were on top right from the off with Michael Duffy having an effort blocked early on by Raul Fehér before McMillan glanced just wide from Sean Hoare’s cross on eight minutes.
The breakthrough then arrived six minutes later. Stefan Colovic did well to win possession in midfield before picking out Duffy, who in turn slipped McMillan in on the right.
The striker then made no mistake with a cool finish past Josep Gomes for the ninth European goal of his career.
Despite continuing to dominate, the Lilywhites passed up several chances to add to their tally after that with Duffy firing wide after a good run in from the left on 18 minutes before Greg Sloggett curled a left foot shot just over on the half hour mark.
Duffy then turned provider on two occasions in quick succession. His pull back to McMillan saw the striker drag a shot just wide on 36 minutes before another cross to Sean Murray a minute later saw the midfielder denied by a good stop from Gomes.
Report from the Estadi Comunal as #DundalkFC book their place in the next round of the #UEL third qualifying round to face Sheriff Tiraspol.— DundalkFC (@DundalkFC) September 17, 2020
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Inter Club would only threaten for the first time on 41 minutes when a header across the box broke to Soldevila, who was denied by a superb block at close range by Chris Shields.
Dundalk would go close again in stoppage time at the end of the half but Murray’s curling free kick came back off the upright to leave it 1-0 at the break.
The visitors struggled to impose themselves as strongly on the game at the start of the second half but felt they should have had a penalty on 54 minutes when McMillan went down in the box following a heavy challenge from Ildefons Lima.
On this occasion referee Shimusik was uninterested.
The game then turned in the Andorrans favour on 58 minutes when Boyle was shown a second yellow card for what was deemed to be a second bookable offence for a foul on Marc Puyol.
That and his initial booking for an apparent foul on Soldevila five minutes before the break both looked harsh but suddenly the reigning SSE Airtricity League champions were down to 10 men.
Colovic was sacrified for Sean Gannon as Giovagnoli sought to rearrange his side and despite their numerical disadvantage they almost doubled their lead on 67 minutes when Brian Gartland’s header from a Duffy free kick had to be touched over by Gomes.
Adfonso Baines’ side would go close again with 15 minutes remaining when Soldevila pulled an effort across the face of goal and wide.
The same player would then pass up a fantastic chance with five minutes to go when he headed over after being picked out unmarked in the box.
Soldevila would have another chance when he was picked out by Federico Bessone’s cross in the first minute of stoppage time but he failed to get the power on his effort to trouble Gary Rogers.
The 33-year-old would then see red for two bookings in quick succession as Dundalk held out to book their passage through to the third qualifying round where they will face Sheriff Tiraspol next Thursday.
Inter Club d’Escalades: Josep Gomes; Raul Fehér, Ildefons Lima, Emili Garcia, Federico Bessone; Albert Reyes, Sergi Moreno (Jordi Roca 83); Jordi Rubio (Óscar Reyes 86), Marc Pujol, Genís Soldevila; Jordi Betriu (Bruninho 78).
Subs not used: Joan Bayona, Xavier Moreno.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Hoare, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy; Chris Shields, Greg Sloggett; Stefan Colovic (Sean Gannon 60), Sean Murray (John Mountney 70), Michael Duffy; David McMillan (Patrick Hoban 70).
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey, Will Patching, Daniel Cleary, Daniel Kelly.Referee: Viktor Shimusik (Belarus).