Northern Irish side Cliftonville advanced into the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday beating their Luxembourg counterparts Differdange at Solitude on Thursday evening winning by two gaols to nil. David McDaid and Jay Donnelly where the reds heroes on the night as they stood firm to lead them through to a match with AEK Larnaca from Cyprus .
Manager Gerard Lyttle gave set up his team superbly with new signings Jason Mooney and namesake Jason McGuinness impressing the Reds took the lead inside two minutes thanks to David McDaid as he beat the Differdange defence after a Donnelly flick on to fire the ball across the keeper .
Cliftonville on the night where superb a fantastic achievement for any Irish League side they also had a goal ruled out for a foul as Tomas Cosgrove delivered a sublime ball into the box the keeper looked to have dropped the ball in front of Chris Curran but the referee adjudged Jude Winchester to have fouled his counterpart.
Cliftonvilles second goal came from Donnelly who put in a fantastic performance as he pounced after good work by Curran when he played the ball across goal , In the other Europa League games involving Danske Bank Premiership sides Linfield drew one-one with League of Ireland side Cork City .
Unfortunately for the Blues it wasn’t enough as they exited the competition after losing one-nil at Windsor Park last week however it was a very good result for David Healys side and one that they can build on for the upcoming season . Mark Stafford scored the Linfield goal but it was the man in the Blues goal who was the talking point as Roy Carroll put in an outstanding performance making save after save .
Irish Cup winners Glenavon where also involved against Icelandic side KR Reykjavik at Mourneview Park the LurganBlues going down to a heavy Six-Nil defeat . It was an extremely disappointing night for the Glenavon faithful especially only going into the match two-one behind on aggregate . Gary Hamilton manager of Glenavon has made a statement apologising to the supporters after the performance not a good way to start the season .
It is fantastic however to see local Northern Irish football represented in round two with Cliftonville the whole country should get behind them just as much they did with the national team in France this summer . Crusaders take on Danish side in the Champions league on Wednesday a very tough test lies ahead for Stephen Baxters side as Copenhagen have some top players including former Cardiff City striker Andreas Cornelius and Sweden international and former Fulham midfielder William Kvist in their ranks .
I would urge any local supporter in Northern Ireland to get down to Seaview and Solitude on Wednesday and Thursday respectively to support these two clubs in Europe as the league continues to make its followers proud .
Article by Josh Bunting