Miroslav Zelinka (CZE)
Linfield Scorers :
Stafford (6’), Lavery (17’), Clarke (76’)
FK Sutjeska Scorers :
Bozovic (14', 60')
Linfield Yellow Card :
FK Sutjeska Yellow Cards :
Sofranac, Bozovic, Nedic
FK Sutjeska Red Card :
Linfield Team :
Rohan Ferguson (GK), Chris Casement, Mark Stafford, Ryan McGivern, Matthew Clarke, Bastien Hery, Jamie Mulgrew ©, Kirk Millar (Joel Cooper 67’), Niall Quinn (Jordan Stewart 76’), Stephen Fallon, Shayne Lavery (Andy Waterworth 78’)
Linfield Subs not used :
Alex Moore, Jimmy Callacher, Daniel Kearns, Andrew Mitchell
FK Sutjeska Team :
Vlado Giljen (GK), Milovan Petrovikj, Bojan Ciger, Nemanja Nedic, Damir Kojasevic, Marko Cetkovic, Novica Erakovic (Stefan Nikolic 84’), Aleksandar Sofranac, Darko Bulatovic, Bojan Bozovic (Bozo Markovic 73’), Miljan Vlaisavljevic (Marko Vucic 62’)
FK Sutjeska Subs not used :
Licina (GK), Grivic, Bubanja, Marusic
David Healy’s heroes wrote themselves into the Linfield and Irish League history books as the first team to reach the fourth round of the UEFA Europa League. In doing so, the Blues won consecutive rounds in Europe for the first time since 1967 and now they can dare to dream as they enter a two-legged play-off against Qarabag of Azerbaijan for a place in the group stages.
Linfield got the night off to the best possible start when Fermanagh man Mark Stafford rose like a salmon to power home a header from Kirk Millar’s corner to beat the helpless Sutjeska goalkeeper with just six minutes on the clock.
The hosts made a great response as they drew level on 14 minutes. Their star man, Damir Kojasevic, whipped in a free-kick from out right and striker Bojan Bozovic popped up with a clinical header into the corner of Rohan Ferguson’s net.
But Linfield’s response to that was even better! Striker Shayne Lavery, who is quite simply a nuisance to any defender, put Linfield back in front on 17 minutes with a goal befitting of his style of play. Experienced Sutjeska goalkeeper Vlado Giljen thought he was coming out to sweep up the danger but Lavery’s persistence paid off, his pressure forced the ‘keeper into a mistake and from 30 yards the former Everton striker found the net with a fine finish, even beating a backtracking defender in the process.
David Healy’s men received another boost 10 minutes before the half-time break as the Montenegrin side were reduced to ten men. Defender Aleksandar Sofranac had a torrid time trying to cope with Lavery all night, a similar tale to the first leg in Montenegro, and ultimately two cynical fouls – the second of which was an off-the-ball elbow – ensured he would receive his marching orders.
Kirk Millar very nearly continued his fine goalscoring form when Matthew Clarke found him with a cross after surging up the pitch and into the box. Millar met the cross with a diving header which flashed just wide of the far post.
Half Time: Linfield 2 – 1 FK Sutjeska
Linfield were much in control on the second half and the masterful Shayne Lavery went close to finding the net after beating two men in a brilliant solo run but his shot flashed wide.
The visitors had a decent chance of their own when Kojasevic’s corner was met by the glancing head of Bojan Bozovic at the near post but Rohan Ferguson made a smart save.
There was no stopping his header on the hour-mark, however, as he threw the cat amongst the pigeons to level the scores on the night. Again it was a dangerous corner from Kojasevic and this time striker Bozovic powered home an unstoppable header, meaning the visitors needed just one goal to progress.
Seemingly, going down to ten men was a blessing in disguise. They established a real foothold in the game and at times the tension inside Windsor was unbearable. When Cetkovic took on a shot from the edge of the box it was heart-in-mouth stuff for a split second but Rohan Ferguson displayed great handling.
Things soon changed, however, as Linfield struck a dagger through a strong heart. Substitute Joel Cooper produced a moment of mercurial class to beat his man inside the box before squaring the ball low across the face of goal where Matthew Clarke would ghost home at the back post to slot the ball home. You could have cut the tension in the ground with a plastic knife, but once Matthew Clarke slotted home, Windsor Park turned into a cauldron of atmosphere in a split second as the Blues took the lead on the night. The jubilant Linfield supporters were witnessing history before their very eyes, and enjoying every moment. A night to savour.
Full Time: Linfield 3 (5) – 2 (3) FK Sutjeska
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Shayne Lavery