David Healy has spoken of his pride in his Linfield squad as they pushed themselves to the limit in Azerbaijan last night before agonisingly losing on away goals to Qarabag in their Europa League qualifier.
The Blues kept themselves in the tie after Jaime Romero’s sixth minute goal put the hosts ahead in the tie.
Abdellah Zoubir’s late goal looked to have wrapped things up, but Shayne Lavery’s injury time goal set up a tense finish.
David Healy’s men could not find a crucial second in the dying moments, but the Blues boss heaped praise on the players despite the disappointment of their incredible European dream coming to an end.
“I’m gutted for the players as they won’t get the opportunity to reinforce how good they are in the group stages,” Healy told the Linfield website.
“I’m proud of the players, proud of the staff, and proud of how we as a club went about our experience.
“It’s gutting to lose in the manner that we have in the end, but I’m immensely proud about how we went about the task tonight.
“The players pushed themselves to the limit.
“It was important we stayed in the game to give ourselves the opportunity to have a go in the last 15 minutes. We got hit with a sucker punch, but for me it looks offside.
“All-in-all it’s been a hugely positive experience over the last seven or eight weeks.
“We never expected to get within 15 minutes of the group stages.
“Credit to the players that they gave themselves that opportunity.
“We have to take the positives out of it and focus on retaining our league title now.
“It’s been an incredible journey but we should all want more.
“We don’t want this to be an oh so close story, we want to capitalise on this with the squad we have.”