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Linfield exit Europa League

Linfield goalkeeper Johnny Tuffey shows safe hands as Chris Heggarty makes sure everything is under control against AIK SolnaPicture by Roger Vikstrom / Press Eye

Linfield goalkeeper Johnny Tuffey shows safe hands as Chris Heggarty makes sure everything is under control against AIK SolnaPicture by Roger Vikstrom / Press Eye

Linfield bowed out of the Europa League after a brave performance in the Friends Arena in Stockholm yesterday evening.

Second half goals from Kennedy Igboananike and Henok Goltom gave the AIK a 2-0 win on the night, 2-1 on aggregate, but the Blues were so close to causing a major upset in the Swedish capital.

A minutes silence was held before kick-off as a mark of respect to former Linfield Chairman Billy McCoubrey who passed away on Thursday.

Manager Warren Feeney made two changes from the first leg with Andy Waterworth and Sean Ward coming in for Peter Thompson and Jamie Mulgrew.

The home side were dominant in the early stages and Johansson went close with two headers narrowly over the bar.

On 20 minutes Johnny Tuffey saved well from Bahoui who was left free in the box. Linfield had a fortunate escape on 24 minutes after a corner on the left but the ball was scrambled off the line to safety.

Aaron Burns had a fine effort for Linfield on 37 minutes but goalkeeper Carlgren pushed his left foot shot round the post.

AIK continued to pile in the pressure in the second half and it paid off on 55 minutes. Nigerian striker Kennedy Igboananike took advantage of a slip in the Linfield defence, taking the ball round Tuffey before firing home.

The Linfield defence was breached again in 72 minutes. Henok Goitom turned on the edge of the box and his low shot beat Tuffey and nestled in the corner of the net.

The Blues brought on Jamie Mulgrew, Ross Clarke and Peter Thompson in an attempt to grab a precious away goal but their attacking efforts were rare against a strong AIK side.

Substitute Kenny Pavey almost added a third for the home side before the end but he somehow blasted over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

So Linfield exit the competition at the second qualifying round stage but it was a fine effort by the Blues over the two legs and AIK will know that they have been in a real battle.

Linfield: Tuffey, Glendinning (Mulgrew 58)’ Hegarty (captain), Richards, M.Clarke, Sproule (M.Clarke 62), Ward, Lowry, Burns, Carvill (Thompson 75)

AIK: Carlgren, Karlsson, Johansson, Milosevic, Borges, Bahoui, Lorentzson, Ofori (Saletros 75) Moro, Igboananike (Pavey 84), Goitom.

 

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