One down, two go. That’s how many opportunities Linfield had left to reach the group stage in Europe after the 8-0 loss to Bodø/Glimt.
It’s a devastating way for the Blues to end their Champions League run this season as the Scandinavians thrashed David Healy’s team, playing the majority of the match in 10’s after an early red card to match one hero Kirk Millar.
Oh, the roller coaster of football. A week ago, Millar was cheered by everyone and went viral with his amazing chip that gave the Blues a 1-0 victory at Windsor Park in the first leg. Just 20 minutes into the match at the Aspmira Stadium in Norway, the winger walked off the field despondent and despondent when he handballed on the line to convert a penalty to make it 2-0 to the opposition.
Since then, Linfield’s dream of reaching the third qualifying round of the world’s most prestigious club tournament has been dashed, and with Bodø/Glimt’s relentless, relentless attack, the question has moved on to how much.
The answer was eight, as the Blues lost 8-1 on aggregate. Exit from the Champions League and advance to the third qualifying round of the Europa League.
Win this match and Healy’s men will advance to the Europa League Group Playoffs and are guaranteed to qualify for the Europa Conference League group stage.
Lose and have a shootout in the Europa Conference League to advance to the group stage.
Losing with a score of 8:0 is a shame, but according to UEFA rules, all is not lost. Team Healy still has a lot to gain if they can recover from this ordeal.
In Norway, Linfield hoped to make history by becoming the first Irish league team to qualify for the group stage in Europe.
They still can, but what we know for sure is that the Blues will create a different story next month when they play for the first time on Sunday at Windsor Park.
This is because the second leg of their Europa League match will be played on Thursday 11 August and the first Irish Premier League match between Linfield at home and Portadown will now be rescheduled one day back to Sunday 14 August.
Linfield chairman Roy McGivern told the Belfast Telegraph last week that this was the plan and after the club’s elimination from the Champions League, it would come to fruition. The Blues could also play Sunday league games away against Newry and Carrick Rangers in August.
On Wednesday night in Norway, they were defeated by a team that beat Valiur (Iceland), Pristina (Kosovo), FC Zalgiris (Lithuania), Roma (Italy), Zorya Lugansk (Ukraine) and CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria) at home. en route to the playoffs of the European Conference League last season.
Bodø/Glimt thrashed Jose Mourinho’s Roma 6-1, so Linfield is in good company.
In the play-offs, they beat Celtic home and away and then AZ Alkmaar before Mourinho got his revenge in the “last eight” – but not before the Norwegian title holders beat the eventual winners 2-1 on an artificial pitch to show the first win. it wasn’t an accident.
At Windsor Park, Linfield defended brilliantly to keep Bodø/Glimt out, but did not reach the same high standard on the return kick. The opening goal at six minutes was revealing, as Joel Muguisha was allowed to drive into the box too easily before passing to Hugo Veltesen, who shot low into the net.
This was followed by the removal of Millar, and Victor Boniface converted a penalty. As Linfield failed to keep the ball for long, the score was 4-0 at half-time and 8-0 at the end, with Amal Pellegrino and Runar Espejord scoring twice, as well as Ulrik Soltnes and Alfons Sampstead.
The Blues have been well and truly trained and should learn from this hard lesson when the time comes for the Europa League.