Cliftonville progress in Europa League with 3-1 aggregate win against Differdange 03

Cliftonvilles Jay Donnelly celebrates after scoring the second goal against Differdange 03

Cliftonvilles Jay Donnelly celebrates after scoring the second goal against Differdange 03

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Cliftonville booked their place in the second qualifying round of the Europa League after a superb 2-0 victory over Differdange 03 at Solitude on Thursday night.

Goals from Davy McDaid and Jay Donnelly sealed the win in north Belfast, earning Gerard Lyttle’s side a 3-1 aggregate win.

It leaves Cliftonville as the only Danske Bank Premiership representatives left in the Europa League.

McDaid struck early against the Luxembourg visitors and Jay Donnelly added a second after the break.

Differdange had Tom Siebenaler sent with 15 minutes remaining.

Cliftonville will now meet AEK Larnaca of Cyprus in the next round.

McDaid gave the home side the perfect start, latching on to Donnelly’s flick and forcing his way past two defenders before firing into the bottom corner in the second minute.

The visitors responded and went close from a corner when Omar Er Rafik had his header saved by new Reds goalkeeper Jason Mooney.

The visitors tried to respond with Devijvid Sinani dragging a shot wide of the target early in the second half.

Their quest took a significant knock when they were reduced to 10 men when Siebenaler was sent off for a last-man foul on Donnelly.

And Cliftonville put Differdange to the sword as they made their extra man count.

Their second goal arrived 15 minutes from time with Donnelly the hero.

Chris Curran was the provider, surging to the byeline before crossing low for Donnelly to finish off at the backpost.

Differdange continued to battle and it required a good save from Mooney to keep out Antonio Luisi’s strike.

Daniel Hughes could have added a third late on for Cliftonville but after weaving his way clear the substitute failed to beat keeper Andre Almeida Rodrigues.