Derry City’s prospects of advancing to the third round of the Europa League suffered a major blow when Nikolai Yanush capitalised on some inept defending to earn Belarusian side Shakhtyar Soligorsk a 1-0 victory in the first leg of their tie at the Brandywell.
A defensive mistake by Shane McEleney afforded Yanush the opportunity to score the only goal of the game, but the visitors spurned a host of other chances to increase their lead.
Derry’s Gerard Doherty made a series of top-drawer saves to keep the score down, while Roy Patterson saw the Candystripes’ best chance of the game cleared off the line.
The visitors were denied the opening goal in the 12th minute when Ihar Kuzmianok’s piledriver from 25 yards clipped the Doherty’s right-hand post.
The home side started to find their feet in the tie and they thought they had taken the lead on 20 minutes when Patrick McEleney’s sublime pass released Rory Patterson, who finished confidently, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Derry self-destructed in the 28th minute when Shane McEleney’s attempted back pass only found Yanush, and the striker too full advantage as he showed great composure to round Doherty and slot the ball home.
Just before the break, Siarhei Balanovich got in behind the City defence after forging down the right wing, but his shot was well saved by Doherty.
Yanush had a chance early in the second half, but instead of shooting the striker decided to square the ball across the six-yard-box, and Alekei Rios was unable to get anything on the centre.
Doherty kept his side in the game on 51 minutes when the lively Yanush easily evaded Cliff Byrne inside the City box, but his close-range shot was kept out by the City shot-stopper.
The visitors hit the woodwork for the second time as Alekei Rios’ low drive was superbly turned on to the post by Doherty.
Doherty pulled off another remarkable save to thwart substitute Dmitri Asipenka in the 70th minute.
Soon after, Derry had a good chance to level matters. Patterson’s pivoted and unleashed a shot which had Soligorsk keeper Artur Kotenko beaten, but Aliaksei Yanushkevich was on hand to boot the ball off the line.
Derry City: Doherty, McBride, S McEleney, Byrne, Barry; Molloy, B McNamee, P McEleney (Boyle 86); Duffy (Dooley 63), Patterson, Timlin. Subs: Ventre, Tracey, Lowry, Curran, Gallagher.
Shakhytor Soligorsk: Kotenko, Yanushkevich, Kasheuski, Kuzmianok, Matveychik, Stargorodskyy, Galiuza, Rios (Tsevan 88), Balanovich (Guruli 77), Yanush (Asipenka 67).
Referee: Mr Danilo Grujic (Serbia).