Brave Derry City knocked out of Europe by Riga's Brazilian dangerman

Riga 2 Derry City 0 (Riga won 4-0 on aggregate)

BRAZILIAN winger Gabriel Ramos ended Derry City's faint hopes of progressing in the Uefa Conference League with goals in either half to send Riga to the second round.

The 24 year-old from Rio proved a thorn in the side of the City defence over both legs having also netted in the 2-0 win at Brandywell last week.

Derry faced an uphill task as they attempted to create history in the Baltics by becoming the first Irish side to overcome a two goal deficit in Europe.

Patrick McEleney and Riga goalscorer Gabriel Ramos get to grips with each other in the rain in Riga. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

Derry fans travelled in their numbers with around 300 making their presence felt among the 3450 spectators at the Skonto Stadium.

It was a brave effort by Ruaidhri Higgins' side who could so easily have gone in front during a dominant opening half hour.

Cameron McJannet had an effort cleared off the line before James Akintunde came agonisingly close to finding the net when he screwed his shot wide after going clean through on goal.

Will Patching struck the woodwork in the second half but the damage was done by the Brazilian.

Cameron McJannet bursts forward from midfield for Derry City during the second leg against Riga. Photographs by Kevin Moore.

Derry were opened up on the left flank and when the ball was cut back towards the penalty spot, Ramos was in acres of space and ruthlessly found the net on 33 minutes.

Riga grew in confidence as the game progressed and the tie was over when Ramos broke on the left before firing past Brian Maher on 77 minutes.

Derry's European adventure ended at the first hurdle.

Higgins made three changes from the team which lost in the first leg. Two of those were enforced with Matty Smith, who was shown a straight red card in the second half, suspended and Ronan Boyce injured.

In came Danny Lafferty, Brandon Kavanagh and James Akintunde with the latter replacing Jamie McGonigle who dropped to the bench.

The big news, however, was the return of winger Michael Duffy, making the bench for the first time since sustaining a fractured tibia on his second City debut against Drogheda on March 14th.

Riga made two changes from the team which comfortably won the first leg with Finnish winger Mikael Soisalo dropping to the bench. Captain, Antonijis Cernomordijs didn't make the squad. Former BATE Borisov midfielder Yury Kendysh came in alongside Iija Korotkovs.

Derry City had nothing to lose after a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Brandywell last Thursday night and they certainly started the game with the shackles off.

There was a heavy downpour just before kick-off and Derry started brightly knocking the ball about sharply on the slick surface.

When McJannet burst forward from midfield he did superbly to force a corner kick on four minutes.

Patching's first corner was cleared behind but his second was swung towards the back post where McJannet got a touch but it was cleared off the line by the Riga defence.

Riga were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous area on the right side of the Derry penalty area when Shane McEleney was penalised on 10 minutes.

Gabriel Ramos sent an inswinging free-kick into the crowded area and Douglas Bergvist powered his free header over the bar.

Derry were on the frontfoot once more and when Patching found the run of Lafferty on the left side of the penalty area the ex-Sheffield United man blasted into the side netting from a tight angle.

It was an encouraging spell by the Candystripes and they came agonisingly close to taking the lead on 17 minutes.

Kavaagh split the Riga defence with a lovely threaded pass through the middle to find Akintunde in behind. The striker took a touch before steering his shot just wide of the far post with the keeper beaten.

Riga broke the deadlock on 33 minutes and it was a real sucker punch for Derry who had been on top for the opening half hour.

Riga overloaded Derry's left side and when Glody Ngonda, who was involved in that red card incident with Smith in the first leg, cut it back from the byline, dangerman Ramos fired clinically into the back of the net from 12 yards.

It was an uphill task to begin with but now Derry's hopes of progressing were faint at best despite that excellent start.

Kavanagh almost found the target moments later when he was gifted possession by a sloppy defensive pass but his well struck effort from distance sailed narrowly over.

At the other end Riga broke and when substitute Mikael Soisalo got in behind the Derry defence despite suspicions of offside, Brian Maher made a tremendous save with his outstretched leg at his near post.

Derry were stretched and Ramos was causing problems. The Brazilian played Oleksandr Filippov into space but he dragged his shot across goal and wide on 37 minutes.

Derry were living dangerously at the start of the second half as Ramos all too easily got in behind the defence from the left flank. Twice Derry managed to clear the danger but they were flirting with disaster.

Derry fashioned a chance of their own on 58 minutes after a lovely build-up involving Dummigan who found Lafferty in space on the left. The City wingback showed great composure to pick out Patching in space just inside the 18 yard box but the Mancunian's superb strike hit the top of the crossbar and went over.

City boss Higgins made a double substitution on 73 minutes which was well received by the travelling support as Duffy made his long awaited return alongside new signing Ryan Graydon.

Just four minutes later the tie was dead and buried for Derry as Riga hit on the counter.

Ramos played a neat one-two with Douglas Aurelio and the former raced towards goal, took a touch onto his right foot before burying his strike past Maher into the far corner.

That was the end of the road for Derry who will take some crumbs of comfort from that first half display against a quality Riga outfit.

RIGA: Nils Purins: Raivis Jurkovskis, Thanos Petsos (Mikael Soisalo 15), Douglas Bergqvist, Glody Ngonda; Douglas Aurelio (Brice Tutu 84), Yuri Kendysh (Ritvars Rugins 84), Yuri Vakulko, Iija Korotkovs; Gabriel Ramos (Armands Petersons 82); Oleksandr Filippov (Vladlen Yurchenko h-t).

Subs Not Used - D. Oss, R. Ozols, A. Kurakins, V. Yurchenko.

Derry City: Brian Maher: Joe Thomson, Shane McEleney (Michael Duffy 73), Eoin Toal (Ciaran Coll 84), Cameron McJannet; Brandon Kavanagh (Ryan Graydon 73), Cameron Dummigan, Patrick McEleney, Danny Lafferty (Evan McLaughlin 59; Will Patching; James Akintunde (Jamie McGonigle 59).

Subs Not Used - N. Gartside, F. Doherty, J. Malone, C. Porter, D. McCallion.

Referee - Jan Machalek (Czech Republic)