Nacho Novo just couldn’t hide his delight after he pinched a priceless winner for Glentoran against struggling Carrick Rangers at the Oval.
The 37 year old striker struck just seconds after the break to earn the East Belfast side three vital points which keeps them in the shake-up for a European qualifying slot.
But make to mistake about it, this wasn’t a game for the purist. Gary Haveron’s boys huffed and puffed but failed to penetrate a resolute Rangers defence - until Novo struck.
Amazingly, it was the Glens’ first win in front of the home fans since November 26 - and it’s only the fourth time they’ve take three points from a league fixture a the Oval this season!
They even missed a penalty late on when Curtis Allen’s effort was saved by Brian Neeson.
Veteran midfielder Chris Morrow was right out of luck on 28 minutes. His vicious volley arrowing inches over the crossbar with Morris beaten.
Novo then went close at the other end. He picked himself up after being flattened by Kyle McVey, but his 20 yard free kick crept agonisingly over the top.
The Glens required less than 60 seconds after the turnaround to break the deadlock.
Lavery’s piercing run on the left caught the Rangers defence napping and Novo popped up in the middle to hammer past Neeson from six yards.
Live wire Conal Delaney almost hit a killer second for the home team on 72 minutes but he could only shoot across the face of goal.
Glentoran had a chance to put the game to bed three minutes from time when Paddy McNally handled an Allen header. Neeson however kept out Allen’s spot kick.
Glentoran: Morris, Magee, Allen, Novo (Smith 90), Lavery, McAlorum, McAuley, Addis, Redman, Ferrin, Delaney (Sterling 91).
Unused subs: O’Flynn, Cafolla, Nelson.
Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Smyth (Elder 83), McVey, McNally, McCullough, TJ Murray, M Murray, Morrow, Kelly, O’Brien, Noble (Clarke 72).
Unused subs: McConnell, Chapman, Taggart.
Referee: Ian McNabb.