Linfield Ladies returned to UEFA Champions League action in their eagerly anticipated opening Group 1 game against Thor / KA of Iceland at Seaview on Tuesday night.
Linfield, as fourth seeds, were up against the full time second seeds from Iceland who fielded several senior Mexican internationals.
In front of a good sized crowd the Icelanders took the lead in the 12th minute when a loose ball was bundled over the line following a corner by Calderon.
The Icelandic champions had a chance to extend their lead in the 23rd minute when inspirational Ashley Hutton was adjudged to handle the ball and the Austrian ref pointed to the spot. The Thor number 9 Mayor placed the ball to Lauren Perry’s right and the Northern Ireland keeper got down to make the save to keep the score at 1-0.
For the remainder of the half the visitors dominated possession and forced numerous corners but they were unable to breach a stubborn Linfield back line in which both keeper Lauren Perry and central defender Hutton were particularly impressive.
On the brink of half time Linfield almost grabbed an equaliser when a looping header from McGuinness landed on the roof of the net with many players and spectators thinking the ball had gone into the net.
Half time - Thor / KA 1 Linfield 0
Louise McDaniel was a half time replacement for Abbie Magee.
The pattern of the game remained similar in the second half. Linfield relied on the counter attack for breaks into the visitors half with the Icelandic champions continuing to press for the comfort of the killer second goal.
Linfield defended with pride and resilience and continued to frustrate the slick and physically strong visitors.
Thor / KA came close on several occasions to adding a second goal but Lauren Perry produced numerous top class saves and defenders continued to put bodies on the line in dogged defiance.
As the game wore on Louise McFrederick replaced Jennifer McDade and Rebecca Bassett replaced Sarah Venney.
Shortly after the Mexican Stephanie Mayor had hit the post with a fine strike the same player added a second goal with 82 minutes on the clock. It was a fine strike into the far corner leaving Lauren Perry no chance.
Linfield can hold their heads up high after a spirited gallant performance but on the night the visitors deserved their victory after an impressive display.
For Linfield there were a lot of positives to take from the evening with every player doing what was asked of them and the entire team keeping their shape and discipline in the face of formidable opposition .
Ronnie Morrison sponsored Player of the Match - Chloe McCarron
Final score - Thor / KA 2 Linfield 0
In attendance were Linfield manager David Healy, his assistant Ross Oliver as well as directors Stephen Dickson, Stephen Shaw, Jonathan Lamont, Paul Weir, Jack Grundie, Andy Conn and former chairman Jim Kerr.
Friday’s Champions League games are
2pm - Ajax Amsterdam v Linfield
7.30pm - Thor / KA v Wexford
Both games are at Seaview with admission £2 or £1 concession.
Meanwhile Cliftonville cut Linfield’s lead at the top of the Danske Bank NIFL women’s premier league table to 8 points following their 2-2 draw away to Sion Swifts. The Reds have a game in hand.