Derry City face a daunting task to keep alive their slim hopes of advancing in the UEFA Europa League after what was a comprehensive defeat to Dinamo Minsk on Thursday night.
It was the first European tie at Brandywell since 2014, but it was a hugely disappointing night for the ‘Candy Stripes’ who finished the game with 10 men following Conor McDermott’s late dismissal.
The home side experienced a nightmare start as Dinamo skipper, Nino Galovic rifled in a close range shot with less than two minutes on the clock.
In fact, the Belarusians controlled the game without ever getting out of second gear and the visitors put the tie to bed on 64 minutes through Uladzimir Khvashchynski who netted a killer second away goal.
It was always going to be a huge ask to progress to the second round, but City will go into Thursday’s second leg in Belarus needing a minor miracle to turn this around.
The controversial ticket prices proved the main talking point in the lead up to the match with fans threatening a boycott and that was clearly reflected in the poor attendance and flat atmosphere.
Kenny Shiels handed his son Dean his debut while McDermott returned to the starting XI in the unfamiliar left-back position.
The home lot got off to the worst possible start as the Belarusians netted with 90 seconds on the clock.
Dan Seaborne conceded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area and Uros Nikolic’s strike hit Rory Hale in the wall.
The Dinamo midfielder kept the ball alive and spread it wide to Artsem Hurenka who crossed towards the back post where Galovic took a touch before rifling into the net from 12 yards.
Kenny Shiels was forced into a substitution as Rory Hale was replaced by his brother Ronan after sustaining a blow to the face during the free-kick which led to the goal.
Derry were stunned and with the game-plan disrupted from an early juncture, the visitors were controlling proceedings.
Dinamo came so close to doubling the advantage on 13 minutes.
Hurenka crossed dangerously towards the back post where Uladzimir Khvashchynski’s close range header was denied by a fantastic save from Gerard Doherty who tipped it over the bar.
From the resultant corner broke to Seidu Yahaya 25 yards from goal and he let fly with a ferocious strike which narrowly missed the target.
Derry’s first effort on goal arrived on 18 minutes lifted the attendance as Jamie McDonagh crossed from the right and substitute, Ronan Hale’s overhead kick went just over the crossbar.
It was encouraging for Derry and they finally managed to settle into the game with 20 minutes gone with Hale offering a promising outlet on the right wing.
Five minutes before the break McDonagh made a crucial interception to deny Anton Saroka.
Derry made a promising start to the second half with McDermott bursting down the left flank before delivering a dangerous cross but Hale couldn’t get enough on his header and the chance was lost.
Dinamo almost added a second on 63 minutes when Khvashchynski squared the ball to Saroka and his shot on the turn went under the body of Doherty but the City skipper reacted quickly to stop the ball on the line.
There was nothing he could do to keep out Dinamo’s next effort as the Belarusians broke quickly and when Pilip Ivanou drew Doherty out of his goal, he found Khvashchynski who was left with an easy tap-in from 10 yards.
It went from bad to worse for City as McDermott was shown his second yellow card for clipping the heels of Uros outside the box with eight minutes on the clock.
Doherty again came to his side’s rescue on 86 minutes when he turned Saroka’s shot behind for a corner with a strong hand.
Derry were simply outclassed on the night but they face a huge task to keep the score to a minimum in Belarus next Thursday night.
Derry City: G. Doherty: J. McDonagh, D. Cole, D. Seaborne, C. McDermott; R. Hale (Ronan Hale 6), A. Splaine; B. Fisk (G. Peers 78), A. McEneff, D. Shiels; A. Roy (R. Patterson 60); Subs Not Used - E. Grime, E. Toal, B. Doherty, R. Hale, A. Delap.
Dinamo Minsk: Harbunou; Zhaunerchyk, Galovic, Chyzh, Shvetsou, YAstraukh ( Behunou 77); Hurenka, U. Nikolic, Kaplenka (Ivanou 29), Yahaya; Khvashchynski (Salavei 66), Saroka.