Linfield boss David Healy last night punched the air with delight after his team created a little piece of history at Windsor Park.
The Dankse Bank Premiership title holders defeated Montenegrin champions FK Sutjeska to become the first Irish League side to feature in the Europa League play-off – which means the Belfast club are in line for another financial bonanza.
Healy’s boys will now meet Azerbaijan champions Quarabag in the play-off next Thursday night at Windsor Park.
Goals from Mark Stafford, Shayne Lavery and Matthew Clarke made it a memorable European night for the big Linfield following, even though Bojan Bozovic kept the visitors in it by scoring twice.
“I thought our fitness levels were phenomenal,” he said. “We probably should have scored more goals because we created numerous chances.
“For me as manager it’s great, but I’m more pleased for the players. I’m here to manage the football club and I’m bursting with pride, as I was last week in Montenegro.
“I burst with pride when we win every game, whether it be against Sutjeska, Glentoran, or the PSNI in the County Antrim Shield.
“Backed by our supporters the players responded.
“We were well prepared mentally and physically. Some of our boys had tears in their eyes after the win – and that tells me all I need to know because they were also bursting with pride.”
With Quarabag next up, Healy added: “We have zero fear...the shackles will be off. It’s a challenge the players will meet head on.”
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