Linfield knocked out of the Europa Conference League by Fola Esch as Larne clinches a shock victory over Pacos de Ferreira but cannot reverse the deficit to clinch the Tottenham tie



The Irish League’s involvement in this season’s UEFA competitions has ended after Linfield and Larne both left the European Conference League.

There’s everything you need to know about their losses in the third qualifying round as Linfield’s delay proved costly as Larne claimed another huge victory at Inver Park:

Fola Esch (4) 2-1 (2) Linfield

Linfield will wonder how the hell they managed to leave the Europa Conference League at the hands of Fola Esch tonight.

The Blues put on a dominant display in Luxembourg and beat their hosts, whose goal remained somewhat intact until the Blues scored through Sam Roscoe in the last minute.

At that point, they needed two to force overtime after Bruno Correia Mendes scored to take the overall lead to 3-1. Rodrigo Parreira would claim a 2-1 victory on the night, 4-1 on aggregate, for Fola in added time, but in truth, it was Correia Mendes’ goal – and his cruel nature – that settled the tie.

Linfield camped in Fola’s half from the start and stayed that way for the majority of the frustrating 90 minutes.

Captain Jamie Mulgrew came close early with a successful practice from outside the box that was beautifully knocked down around the post.

Fola briefly threatened to go further, but Linfield only got stronger and should have taken the lead before the break thanks to Fallon. Niall Quinn’s cross shot tricked the goalkeeper, hooked the bar and rebounded into the box where the waiting midfielder could only hit a side shot when he knew he should have do better.

Linfield’s start to the second half was even better as the Blues put relentless pressure on their hosts’ charmed goal-mouthing. First, Quinn saw two efforts stopped by the goalkeeper in quick succession, then Trai Hume’s header made an agonizing loop over the bar as he climbed the highest to meet a delivery of Quinn.

As the close shaves got more and more incredible, there was the cruelest twist for the Blues in the 67 minutes.

It is first of all a huge letting go for Fola, or rather a tight series of them. Fallon’s chipped cross was directed towards the bar by substitute Christy Manzinga and, from the rebound, Michael Newberry’s point blank shot was somehow deflected over the bar. Then, from the resulting corner, complete rookie Roscoe’s header was stuck on the line.

And, typically, Fola was ruthless at the break, running up the pitch for Bruno Correia Mendes to shake the net and break Linfield’s hearts.

The Blues kept advancing, now knowing they needed two to force overtime, but neither Christy Manzinga nor substitute Andrew Clarke were able to hit the target with a soft finish that proved the story of the night .

Roscoe then leaned over to lead Manzinga’s cross at home in the last minute. Linfield still needed another, but when the ball then rippled into the net it was on the other end as Rodrigo Parreira netted a penalty to complete the scoring.

Linfield’s European race is over and they are now awaiting the start of Danske Bank’s Premiership season at home against the Crusaders on August 28.

Larne (1) 1-0 (4) Pacos de Ferreira

Larne ended his European campaign in the most appropriate circumstances by shocking Portugal’s Pacos de Ferreira 1-0 at Inver Park.

The man of the match, Mark Randall, rightly scored late, crushing a half volley past a helpless goalkeeper after finishing a long ball in the right channel.

It was just a reward for Larne’s dominating performance, although it wasn’t quite the not-so-minor miracle they needed to reverse the 4-0 first-leg deficit and qualify to face Tottenham in the next round.

Larne came close to scoring early when Ronan Hale barged in on goal but was denied by a save goal challenge, also seeing his calls for a penalty fall on deaf ears.

Once again after the break, it was the hosts who caused most of the problems as exceptional substitute Randall smashed the post with pearly effort a few minutes before doing better.

When he waved the net it sparked yet another European roar in the new Church End grandstand and saw Larne’s European record be six played, four games won, one draw and one game lost. .

If the club hierarchy led by Kenny Bruce is successful, it was the first of many European campaigns to have the new look of Inver Park.

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