Joseph Anang was the hero for St Patrick's Athletic as they withstood a big challenge from 10-man Mura to progress on penalties to the third qualifying round of the Europa Conference League.


The on-loan West Ham United keeper made a string of top-class saves in normal time and in extra-time and saved one of the spot-kicks in the shootout to boot.

Both sides missed twice in the first five, Josip Majic, who was brought on specifically for penalties, and Mihael Klepac for Mura, Barry Cotter and Tom Grivosti for Pats.

Centre-half Joe Redmond slotted home in sudden death after Mura keeper Matko Obradovic’s kick just evaded Anang, but Tio Cipot skied his spot-kick to the visitors’ delight.

It caps a big day for the League of Ireland in Europe following Sligo Rovers’ 3-0 aggregate win over Motherwell of Scotland earlier in the day.

The game began in much the same pattern as seven days earlier in Inchicore, with Mura having the better of the opening stages and holding onto the ball well.

Anthony Breslin of St Patrick's Athletic in action against Mura

Dardan Shabanhaxhaj, the winger on loan from Austria’s Sturm Graz, had the first clear sight of goal as he cut inside from the left but he couldn’t find the top corner.

Saints were handed a big let-off midway through the first half as striker Mirlind Daku got his body between the ball and Harry Brockbank in the box, but no penalty was forthcoming.

Gradually, Saints began to assert control of the game, keeping the tempo low in the blistering Slovenian sun and making inroads of their own.

A strong run from Barry Cotter, making his second appearance at right wing-back after signing on loan from Shamrock Rovers, almost yielded an opener for Eoin Doyle.

The striker met Cotter’s pull-back from the endline but his first-time flick was well-blocked by defender Kai Cipot.

From the resulting corner, Doyle nodded the ball back to Cotter, who was completely unmarked in the six-yard box, but the defender couldn’t keep his header down with the goal at his mercy.

A mistake by Tom Grivosti allowed Daku in one-on-one moments later but Joseph Anang came to his defender’s rescue with a big save, the first of many he’d need to make.

Luka Bobicanec spurned a great chance from an Amar Beganovic pull-back while, at the other end, Doyle tested Matko Obradovic with a first-time shot on the turn.

Mura finished the half stronger as Daku rattled the post from a tight angle before Nikola Petkovic forced Anang into action once more.

The game became more fractured in the second half as fatigue set in, and Bobicanec and Billy King had chances on the break at either end.

Daku, who had been booked in the first half, was fortunate not to see a second yellow when he threw himself to the ground in the box – though he had been denied a legitimate claim before.

Mura introduced fresh legs in Matic Marusko, Klepac and Tio Cipot, but Marusko had the wrong sort of impact as he was sent off following a clash with Chris Forrester.

The striker retaliated to a clip on the ear from Forrester with one of his own but only the second was spotted by referee Urs Schnyder and a straight red produced.

This halted any momentum Mura had begun to build and, with 18 minutes to go, offered the Athletic a golden opportunity to make it through.

They weren’t able to break down a retreating Mura side, however, bar a long-range effort from sub Thijs Timmerman that just cleared the post.

If Saints expected to have it their own way after the break against a tiring Mura side, it didn’t turn out that way as they were reliant on Anang for two big saves in a minute.

First, the keeper kept out a bullet free header from Daku, with Anto Breslin somehow clearing the rebound off the line.

Then poor defending allowed Martin Sroler to pull the ball back for the late arriving Klepac, whose eyes lit up before Anang pulled off a superb reaction stop.

Serge Atakayi, on for a tired King, broke the offside trap and had only to square for Doyle to tap home, but he instead shot across goal, and it would be the last clear chance.

NS Mura: Matko Obradovic; Amar Beganovic, Kai Cipot, Darick Morris, Klemen Pucko (Josip Majic 119); Luka Bobicanec, Nik Lorbek (Mihael Klepac 63), Nikola Petkovic (Tio Cipot 63); Ziga Kous (Martin Sroler 86), Dardan Shabanhaxhaj (Matic Marusko 63), Mirlind Daku.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Joseph Anang, Harry Brockbank, Joe Redmond, Tom Grivosti; Barry Cotter, Chris Forrester (Rónán Coughlan 86), Adam O’Reilly (Jay McClelland 115), Jamie Lennon (Thijs Timmermans 62), Anto Breslin; Billy King (Serge Atakayi 68), Eoin Doyle.