Linfield 0, Rosenborg 2
Serial Champions League combatants Rosenborg produced a performance of poise and patience to leave Linfield’s European aspirations drifting towards the Europa League.
The Norwegians 2-0 win tonight at Windsor Park had all the hallmarks of a side comfortable in their Champions League skin.
To be fair to the Blues they gave it all they’ve got, created a couple of decent chances and never stopped grafting on an unforgiving, wet and miserable evening.
Rosenborg are a class act, none more so than skipper Mike Jensen, but then how could a side who can boast 114 international caps be anything else.
In the context of Linfield’s season this game will soon be forgotten but Rosenborg look bound once more for the group stages of Europe’s premier tournament.
Linfield manager David Healy, who gave a debut to recent signing Bastien Hery, had implored his side to fly out of the blocks with all guns blazing and they obliged by creating a decent chance after three minutes.
That was when the Blues had what turned out to be their most penetrative moment of the first half.
The mercurial Jordan Stewart was involved finding Chris Casement on the right who’s cross was met by Niall Quinn but his header dropped just over the crossbar as the Blues faithful gasped.
To be fair to Rosenborg they continued to look comfortable on the sodden Windsor Park surface and were knocking the ball about with confidence egged on by their small but raucous supporters.
Ten minutes in Marius Lundemo roared through from midfield but his fierce shot screamed wide.
On 13 minutes the Blues were living dangerously when Tore Reginiussen’s shot beat Gareth Deane but came back off the post.
Gjermund Asen picked up the rebound but failed to hit the target from 14 yards.
Linfield stuck to their task but Rosenborg kept coming and opennned the scoring after 22 minutes.
Birger Meling made yet another run down the left and his cross fell for club captain Mike Jensen at the back stick and he fired home through a crowd of players.
Then on 37 minutes the Blues made progress down the left and after some fine interplay between Matty Clarke and Quinn Rosenborg keeper Hansen got to the cross into the box ahead of Blues top gun Waterworth.
The second half with drenched with endeavour but lacking in clear cut chances and to be fair to the Blues they were giving it everything with a timely Jimmy Callacher intervention on the hour mark saving the day.
Rosennborg managed to add to their joy by scoring a second goal after 69 minutes.
Anders Konradsen’s left wing cross was tucked away neatly by Alexander Soderlund.
On 74 minutes Shayne Lavery, who had come on as a sub for Kirk Millar saw his shot flash past Hansen’s right hand post.
Waterworth finally had the ball in the net on 78 minutes but he was ruled offside when on receiving Mark Stafford’s pass.
Linfield: Deane; Casement, Stafford, Callacher, Clarke; Millar (Lavery 68), Mulgrew, Hery, Quinn; Stewart (Fallon 89;) Waterworth.
Rosenborg BK: Hansen; Hedenstad, Reginiussen, Hovland, Meling; Jensen, Lundemo, Konradsen (Trondsen 72); Akintola (De Lanlay 61), Soderlund, Asen (Helland 70).
Referee: Ivaylo Stoyanov (Bulgaria).