“Maybe it was meant to be” was how Andy Waterworth reflected on his late heroics as Linfield defeated AIK Solna in the Europa League on Thursday night.
The second qualifying round, first leg tie at Mourneview Park heralded Linfield’s 100th game in Europe.
And on a historic night for the Blues Waterworth delivered in front of 1750 fans in Lurgan with an 87th-minute winner - the striker racing onto Aaron Burns’ flick-on before slotting past Patrik Carlgren.
Waterworth only started the game on the bench as Warren Feeney opted for Peter Thompson up front.
But after replacing Thompson in the 74th minute, the super-sub took 13 minutes to light up Mourneview.
“It is a special night for the club. It was Linfield’s 100th game in Europe and it is a historic occasion,” Waterworth said.
“Maybe it was meant to be. It is a game you want to be part of and I was gutted when I was on the bench. But that is part and parcel of life at Linfield and you take it on the chin.
“Thankfully I got my chance and I took it. It was the kind of chance that I enjoy - putting my laces through the ball.
“Thankfully it went in and we have something to fight for next week in Sweden.”
Proud boss Warren Feeney hailed his players following their heroics last night.
“It is another great night for the club,” he said.
“We knew it was Linfield’s 100th game in Europe, and that added its own pressure. We didn’t want to come here and get hammered three or four-nil.
“I was actually quietly confident going into tonight, and as the game went on I fancied the win.
“To get it is just fantastic, and now we can go out to Sweden with something to fight for.”