Haka 4 Cork City 0

FC Haka 4 Cork City 0

Cork City’s European hopes were dashed here in Valkeakoski last night as they fell to a disastrous 4-0 defeat against FC Haka. Manager Alan Mathews was left to rue his decision to switch to a 4-5-1 formation after his side were steamrollered in front of a sell-out crowd at Tehtaan Kenttä.

“We switched from 4-4-2 because it was a big pitch, and we wanted to try and keep it tight in the middle and to give ourselves a foothold in the game,” said Mathews, while Cork fans shouted their scorn for the formation during the post-match interview.

The 30-strong Rebel Army had previously chanted ‘4-4-2’ and ‘on the ground’ as their side failed to get any kind of foothold and resorted to niggly fouls and long balls. At half time Mathews changed the formation in an attempt to come back from a 2-0 deficit, bringing on striker Denis Behan and taking off midfielder Cillian Lordan.

Behan’s aggressive style proved counter-productive when he contested a free kick given against him and was given a yellow card for dissent. The 24 year old had already been booked for a foul 13 minutes earlier, and the Latvian referee had no choice but to send the former Brentford man off.

“If you get sent off for dissent, that’s an unacceptable red card,” said a frustrated Mathews after the game. “If you get sent off for fouling somebody perhaps you can dispute it, but dissent is a cheap red card and that’s very disappointing.”

Cork went behind in the 10th minute when Toni Lehtinen raced clear down the right flank. He crossed for Janne Mahlakaarto, who slotted the ball past Cork goalkeeper Michael Devine. It was a taste of things to come for the Cork defence, who were carved open repeatedly in a torrid first half.

Haka’s Russian midfielder Valeri Popovitch was the star of the show. Having missed the first leg in Cork due to his aviophobia, the 38 year old showed his class with a lovely lob for the second goal after great interplay with Lehtinen.

Cork had a lot of corners but never looked like scoring. Their most dangerous moment came when Haka goalkeeper Sasha Dovbnya dropped the ball 10 yards from goal, but even then Mooney was second to the ball and the danger passed. Their evening was summed up when Gamble raced clear of his marker but overran the ball. His frustration boiled over and he belted the ball at the advertising hoardings, with the rebound almost reaching the halfway line.

Manninen got a third goal after good work from Popovitch and Kangaskorpi, before Valeri Minkenen won a free kick and scored it himself to wrap up a 4-0 win in the 79th minute.

Asked by Finnish journalists what had gone wrong, Mathews denied his side were unprepared for Popovitch. “We knew he was a good player and we had plans to deal with that, but we put in a very poor performance that wasn’t worthy of getting anything from the game,” said Cork manager Alan Mathews.

Haka: Dovbnya, Kangaskorpi, Viljanen (Minkenen 61), Okkonen, Kauppila, Manninen (Nikkilä 85), Parviainen, Lehtinen (Mattila 52), Popovitch, Mahlakaarto, Fowler.

Cork: Devine, Horgan, Murray, Gamble, Lordan (Behan 45), Healy, Darren Murphy, Sullivan, Kearney (Ryan 61), Danny Murphy, Mooney (O’Flynn 81).

Goals: 10′ Mahlakaarto, 15′ Popovitch, 70′ Manninen, 79′ Minkenen

Attendance: 3,211

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