Cork City will play Roma in the second round of the Uefa Youth League after defeating HJK Helsinki at Turner's Cross. A second-half penalty from Aaron Drinan was enough as the Leesiders held off a late fight back to secure progression.
Having held the Finns to a scoreless draw in Helsinki, Stephen Bermingham's side looked to strike early and fashioned the first series of chances, with Drinan and Kevin Taylor testing Robin Kallman from range.
HJK found it difficult to break down Cork's resolute backline, but they threatened after 12 minutes when full-back Henrik Olander skipped past Denzil Fernandes on the wing before drilling a low shot at goal. Luckily for the hosts, however, David Coffey kept his eye on it and got down to save.
Cork had every right to feel aggrieved heading into the break without a goal as they cranked up the pressure. Daire O'Riordan was left frustrated as he sent a shot wide on 38 minutes and the midfielder was then denied on the stroke of half-time by Kallman, who miraculously tipped the ball onto the crossbar and over.
Nevertheless, the hosts got their rewards just two minutes into the second period as HJK conceded a penalty. Referee Petur Reinhert pointed to the spot without hesitation when Omar Jama handled the ball and Drinan converted the spot-kick with a powerful low drive.
HJK looked cert.ain to draw level shortly after the hour mark when Olander broke free own the left before cutting a dangerous pass back to Timo Stavitski, but somehow David Coffey managed to keep the shot out.
Cork held their shape well heading into the final stages, but there was a moment of sheer panic when HJK earned a corner kick deep into injury time. In desperate pursuit of the equaliser HJK sent the six foot eight Kallman into the box and the goalkeeper caused mayhem in the box, but Coffey did magnificently to deny Olander.
The Leesiders can now look forward to a second-round clash with Italian giants Roma, who defeated APOEL 9-1 on aggregate to book their place in the next stage.