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Dundalk have injury doubts ahead of Zenit St Petersburg's Europa League visit

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Going under Dundalk’s Sean Gannon feels the force of Oleg Shatov

Dundalk have enjoyed a strong start to their unlikely European campaign, beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0, also at Tallaght, as well as a 1-1 draw at AZ Alkmaar.

And speaking on Eir Sport, former Ireland boss Kerr criticised Irish football's authorities for not doing more to accommodate the League of Ireland side and take some pressure off by spreading out the games more, as Stephen Kenny's men bid to become the first-ever team from these shores to progress from the Europa League group stages.

But for a spell last night at Tallaght Stadium, Dundalk dreamed, leading for nearly 20 minutes thanks to a goal from Robbie Benson, while Zenit's travelling party dreaded the fate that would await them if they arrived home with a defeat to an Irish club.

Robert Mak equalised when the Slovakian winger reacted quickly to a poor clearance from Dundalk keeper Gabriel Sava and Brazilian midfielder Giuliano exchanged a one-two in the Dundalk box with Belgian global Axel Witsel before smashing in the victor with 13 mintes remaining.

The consensus before kick-off was that, despite Dundalk having confounded expectations since the beginning of their great European adventure - not least on this very ground when they beat BATE Borisov 3-0 - this game against a team of vast financial wealth and serious Champions League pedigree would prove a step up too far.

A poor goal to concede from a Dundalk point of view.

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Dundalk: Sava, Gannon, Gartland, Boyle (c), Massey, Benson, Finn, Shields, Horgan, McEleney, McMillan.

In the second half, Shatov made the same mistake as Anyukov and Sava remained untested.

The game could have been wrapped up for Dundalk on 60 minutes when a Dane Massey header came back off the woodwork.

And just six minutes later the 2008 winners were in front as Giuliano de Paula turned home after a fine move. The mistake was punished to the fullest when Domenico Criscito laid off the ball for Mak to score.

Many had written off the Irish champions and given them no chance, but Stephen Kenny's men gave an extremely courageous performance. It's the first time they've experienced defeat in Group D - but they still have a great chance of reaching the next phase of the competition.

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