Gareth Deane (GK), Chris Casement, Jimmy Callacher, Mark Stafford, Matthew Clarke, Jamie Mulgrew ©, Bastien Hery, Niall Quinn, Jordan Stewart (Stephen Fallon 89’), Kirk Milllar (Shayne Lavery 67’), Andy Waterworth
Alex Moore, Caomhan McGuinness, Daniel Kearns, Andrew Mitchell, Lorcan Forde
Linfield welcomed Norwegian champions Rosenborg to Windsor Park in the UEFA Champions League First Round Qualifier. There was a buzz around Windsor, not only for the most prestigious tournament in Club football, but also for the debut of highly-rated French midfielder Bastien Hery who completed a move from Waterford FC on the eve of the game. Meanwhile, in the Rosenborg camp, one eye-catching omission was former Arsenal and Juventus striker Nicklas Bendtner who had fallen out of favour with manager Eirik Horneland.
The Blues made a bright start in the pouring rain and were first to go close to a goal when Chris Casement’s cross was headed just over the crossbar by Niall Quinn.
Rosenborg midfielder Lundemo gave Linfield a scare early on when he unleashed a rasping drive from the edge of the box which whistled just past the post.
The visitors went even closer on 13 minutes with another thunderous drive, this time from adventurous centre half Reginiuessen who tried his luck from 30 yards and was only denied by the post. To Linfield’s relief, the follow-up effort from inside the box was swept high and wide.
Unfortunately for Linfield and David Healy, the visitors did make the breakthrough soon after. The Scandinavians took the lead on 21 minutes when a deep cross found Mike Jensen in space at the back post and the midfielder hammered the ball low into the net.
Linfield’s best move of the first half started with the impressive Hery with a smart turn in the middle before finding Niall Quinn out left. Quinn checked inside before finding the overlapping Clarke but his driven cross was well held by the Rosenborg ‘keeper, Hansen. The Blues more than held their own but went into half time trailing by a goal.
Half Time: Linfield 0 – 1 Rosenborg
Mark Stafford showed a fine piece of improvised defending to deny Rosenborg a second early in the second when he got back to nod Alexsander Soderland’s header off the line.
However, Rosenborg and Sotherlund would get their second on 68 minutes when Alex Konradsen nipped in ahead of Mark Stafford before sliding the ball across to striker Sotherlund who would show composure to lift the ball over the onrushing Deane from close range.
Lively substitute Shayne Lavery threatened for David Healy’s side as they posed questions in the later stages. The striker turned well and took on a strike from 25 yards which flew just wide of the post.
Linfield goalkeeper Gareth Deane produced a superb save ten minutes from time, diverting tricky winger Helland’s low strike wide with an outstretched leg. Eirik Horneland’s team still held on for a 2-0 win and it gives Linfield a very tough task ahead of next week’s return leg in Trondheim.
In summary, it was a credible effort from The Blues and the Linfield faithful can take positives, particularly from the performances of their two new signings. Midfielder Bastien Hery looked a class act in midfield, always looking to drive the team on and possessing real confidence. Shayne Lavery was a bundle of energy up front and looked dangerous every time he got the ball in the attacking third.
Full Time: Linfield 0 – 2 Rosenborg