LINFIELD 1 AIK SOLNA 0
By Gareth Fullerton at Mourneview Park
Super-sub Andy Waterworth gave Linfield another night to remember in Europe with a superb 1-0 win over Swedish side AIK Solna.
Waterworth - introduced as a 74th-minute replacement for Peter Thompson - sent Mourneview Park into raptures when he latched onto a long ball to race clear of his marker and slot past AIK goalkeeper Patrik Carlgren.
It was a memorable night for the Blues were were celebrating their 100th game in Europe.
It also means the Irish League representatives will travel to Sweden next week with all to play for following their late heroics.
AIK had almost taken the lead in the 73rd minute when Nabil Bahoui struck the woodwork with a low drive.
It proved a frustrating night for the visitors, but one which will provide new Linfield boss Feeney with plenty of encouragement ahead of next week’s second leg in Stockholm.
Blues keeper Jonny Tuffey was rarely troubled during a tame opening 45 minutes, with Kennedy Igboananike’s long-range effort with the last kick of the half the only concerning incident.
Linfield had their moments, notably when Michael Carvill’s shot was blocked by Martin Lorentzson in the 28th minute.
Carvill scuffed a low shot into the hands of AIK keeper Patrik Carlgren in the 30th minute.
Thompson had time and space to unleash a right-foot volley from the edge of the box in the 40th minute , but the effort sailed well over the bar.
Igboananike tried his luck from 25 yards in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, but the shot drifted wide as Tuffey scrambled to cover.
Igboananike squandered two decent heading opportunities in the space of five minutes early in the second half, while Aaron Burns blazed high and wide after some good work by Ivan Sproule at the other end.
Nabil Bahoui thundered the woodwork in the 73rd minute with a rasping effort from inside the box, with Chris Hegarty blocking Igboananike’s follow-up effort.
Substitute Sean Ward almost broke the deadlock in the 79th minute, but his rasping drive from distance was tipped around the post by AIK keeper Carlgren.
With time ebbing away, Linfield finally claimed a chance in the 87th minute.
A long punt forward was met by Waterworth who fended off the challenge Noah Sonko Sundberg before coolly slotting past Carlgren.
LINFIELD: Tuffey, Richards, Hegarty, Lowry, Thompson (Waterworth 74), Carvill, Burns, M. Clarke, Mulgrew (Ward 21), Reece Glendinning (Callacher 80), Sproule.
Subs not used: Ross Glendinning, Morrow, Quinn, R. Clarke.
AIK: Carlgren, Karlsson, Johansson, Borges, Bahoui, Pavey (Ofori 70), Lorentzson, Sundberg, Igboananike (Moro 87), Saletros, Goitom.
Subs not used: Stamatopoulos, Owusu, Nikolic, Eliasson.
Referee: Rene Eisner (Austria)