Football/Soccer

Millar grabs a brace as Linfield edge closer to Europa League play-offs

Linfield celebrate lifting the Gibson Cup as they are presented with their 53rd Premiership title. Last night, the Blues celebrated Europa League victory in Montenegro
Diarmuid Pepper

KIRK Millar was the hero for Linfield as his two goals fired the Blues into the driving seat for their Europa League third round qualifier.

David Healy's men travelled to Montenegro to face league champions Sutjeska and came away with two crucial away goals in a 2-1 victory.

The playing conditions were very difficult, with a water break being sanctioned in either half as a result of the scorching temperatures.

And things got worse for Linfield when they conceded a goal in the 11th minute of the game.

Damir Kojasevi? curled a free kick beyond Rohan Ferguson to put the Montenegrins one goal up.

But the blues rallied and carved out a great opportunity when Michael Clarke crossed the ball in to the path of Shayne Lavery. However, the ex-Everton man wasn't able to divert his effort into the net.

A breakthrough came in the 38th minutes when Kirk Millar grabbed the first of his brace.

Lavery seen his shot brilliantly saved by the Sutjeska keeper, but Millar was on hand to hammer the loose ball into the goal from an acute angle.

Linfield keep up the pressure in the second hand and were once again rewarded with an excellent Millar finish.

In the 65th minute of the game, new signing Bastien Henry thread a pass into the attacking third which found the run of Millar.

Sutjeska's keeper came running out to close down the space but Millar was calm and collected as he lofted the ball over the keeper and into the net.

Last night's victory gives Linfield every chance of progression to the play-off round of the Europa League where they will face either APOEL or Qarabag.

The return leg will be played in Windsor Park at 19:45 on August 13.

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