Dundalk survived a first half storm in the Netherlands before leaving the GelreDome disappointed not to have beaten Vitesse in their Europa Conference clash.

Thomas Letsch's side battered their opponents from the off but only had a Matúš Bero goal to show for their efforts as they were thwarted time and again by some brilliant saves from Alessio Abibi.

It then became the Patrick McEleney show in the second half as the 28-year-old scored an outstanding double - firstly with his head and then with an amazing chip - to threaten one of the biggest results for an Irish side on their travels in Europe.

Unfortunately it was not to be for Vinny Perth’s side as Loïs Openda equalised a minute from the end before being sent-off for kicking out at Sam Stanton to put him out of next Thursday’s second leg in Tallaght Stadium.

While the Lilywhites will be disappointed not to have won in the end, this could easily have went drastically the other way such was Vitesse's dominance early on.

Lessons were learnt throughout the game, however, with Dundalk posing a real threat that will hopefully stand to them in the second leg which promises to be another cracking affair.

The home side were on top right from the off and it took just five minutes for them to fashion their first chance when Maximilian Wittek’s was flicked on by Nikolai Frederiksen whose effort went tamely wide in the end.

The pressure continued to mount from Vitesse and Dundalk had two further let-offs on 18 minutes when Loïs Openda broke up the right before laying back to Yann Gboho whose effort was pushed away by Abibi before Bero’s follow up was blocked by Andy Boyle.

The breakthrough arrived two minutes later with the visitors being cut open by a devastating counter attack.

A corner from Michael Duffy was cleared as far as Kelly whose shot was charged down resulting in a five on two break. Million Manhoef then slipped Bero in with the Slovakian international slotting past Abibi to make it 1-0.

To their credit, the Louth men almost responded in style two minutes later with McEleney rattling the Vitesse crossbar with a long range strike.

Michael Duffy of Dundalk in action against Danilho Doekhi of Vitesse

Abibi then had to be at his best to ensure there was only a goal between the sides at the break. Another break from a Dundalk corner on 38 minutes saw Gboho slip Frederiksen through on goal only for the Danish forward to be denied by a brilliant stop.

He then did even better a minute before half-time when he pushed Gboho’s cross away before saving the follow up from Bero.

Danilho Doekhi would then glance wide from Wittek’s corner in stoppage time as Dundalk greeted the half-time whistle with a huge sigh of relief.

The pressure from the Dutch side continued on the restart with Tomáš Hájek having a header from Wittek’s corner tipped over before Bazoer struck the outside of the post with another shot from range.

The equaliser arrived on 65 minutes with Hoban doing well to keep the ball alive on the right before laying off to Raivis Jurkovskis whose cross saw McEleney tower above Tomáš Hájek to steer a brilliant header to the top right hand corner.

After Oussama Tannane had been denied low to his left by Abibi Dundalk then found themselves in front on 76 minutes with a brilliant goal of their own on the break. Hoban played a superb ball through for McEleney to race onto and just when he looked to have run out of legs and been caught by Doekhi he produced a stunning chip to lob Schubert and make it 2-1.

The dream result was not to be however as Openda levelled with a stylish close range finish a minute from the end after birthday boy Nattestad failed to deal with a cross into the box.

Openda then went from hero to villain when was sent off a minute later for reacting to a late challenge by Sam Stanton, who was booked for the foul. That will deprive Vitesse of their top scorer from last season for the second leg in Tallaght next Thursday.

Vitesse: Markus Schubert; Million Manhoef (Alois Oroz 83), Danilho Doekhi, Riechedly Bazoer (Julian Vonmoos 77), Tomáš Hájek, Maximilian Wittek; Matúš Bero, Yann Gboho (Oussama Tannane 69), Sondre Tronstad; Nikolai Frederiksen (Oussama Darfalou 69), Loïs Openda.

Dundalk: Alessio Abibi; Raivis Jurkovskis (Sean Murray 84), Andy Boyle, Sonni Nattestad, Darragh Leahy; Sam Stanton, Greg Sloggett; Daniel Kelly (Cameron Dummigan 48), Patrick McEleney (Wilfried Zahibo 84), Michael Duffy; David McMillan (Patrick Hoban 59).Referee: Anastasios Papapetrou (Greece).