Football/Soccer

David Healy's Linfield aiming for Euro glory

Linfield manager David Healy during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 28, 2017. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Carl Toner

Europa League: Windsor Park, 7.45pm: Linfield v FK Sutjeska FC

Linfield are on the verge of making history, as David Healy’s Blues are in a strong position to qualify for the Europa League play-off stage.

The Irish League champions face FK Sutjeska FC (Montenegro) in the second leg of the qualifier-round three of the Europa League.

The first leg saw Linfield return home as 2-1 winners, courtesy of two Kirk Millar goals.

The winner of this tie will meet the loser of the Qarabag (Azerbaijan) v Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus) Champions League tie.

Before the first-leg, manager Healy expressed how the tie with Sutjeska will be a “tough ask”.

The game is Linfield’s first time reaching the third qualifying round in almost 50 years.

He added that “the players have an appetite, they’re enjoying it.

“I know how important these trips can be as a bonding exercise and the players have taken everything on board.”

With a goal advantage and two away goals to their name, Linfield are on the brink of a £275,000 pay out, providing they see past the Montenegrin side.

Speaking to the Linfield website, Healy reflected on the first leg result and looked ahead to the home tie.

“We rode our luck a little bit in Montenegro last week but we are really looking forward to the return leg, it’s a big game for the club and the players.

“The players have given themselves and the club a chance of progression but it won’t be easy.

“People might think that because we won away from home that it’ll be comfortable at home but that won’t be the case.

“We look forward to it as it’s a big game for the players and the club." added the Blues boss.

Linfield go into the tie on the back of a 3-1 win over a young Institute side.

The Blues conceded early through a Joe McCready penalty, but were soon back in front when Kirk Millar levelled in the twelfth minute.

The talking point of the day was undeniably Jordan Stewart’s goal.

The former-Swindon Town winger picked up a pass from Bastien Hery before firing home from 30-yards, a goal that has been tipped for an early goal of the season contender.

Healy’s men were relentless, and ex Northern Ireland defender Ryan McGivern headed home Matthew Clarke’s corner.

The win meant Linfield successfully kick off their title-defending season, and will not welcome the challenge of FK Sutjeska at Windsor Park tonight.

Success in Europe is not a new feat for Linfield this year, as Linfield Ladies defeated Greek champions, PAOK on Saturday.

It was their first Champions League win, as the Blues are now technically in with a chance of reaching the knock out stages, although that would require a large victory over group leaders Anderlecht in their final game tonight at Anderlecht’s stadium, Lillestrom

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