Linfield 0 - 0 AEL LimassolWed, Jul 25 2012
Linfield’s Champions League campaign came to an end as a goalless draw in Windsor Park was not enough to overturn the three goal defeat they suffered against AEL Limassol in the first leg.
AEL now progress to a third qualifying round against Partizan Belgrade with the winner taking a step closer to a coveted spot in the group stages of the competition.
Linfield will now turn their attention to their upcoming league campaign and can do so with confidence after holding the Cypriot champions goalless in the second leg, and may have scored but for a fine Matias Degra save from a first half Ryan Henderson header.
There was a slight delay in proceedings as the line-marking machine needed to be replaced and the supporters enjoyed the sight of a frantic grounds man struggling to keep his composure with the whole stadium watching his every move.
It was probably as enjoyable as it got for Blues fans as from the kick-off the visitors took hold of possession and controlled proceedings for the majority of the game.
Linfield employed a five man defence with BJ Burns falling back to supplement the Blues rearguard as AEL’s forward line, with Patrick Vouho as its spearhead, caused problems with its fluidity and movement.
A typical move involving Sergio Paulo and Edmar Lacerda ended with Rui Miguel flashing the ball past Alan Blayney’s post with the goalkeeper rooted to the spot for the first real chance of the game on thirteen minutes.
Midway through the first half Linfield began to find their feet and came oh so close to an opening goal when Ryan Henderson rose to head Steven Douglas’s cross goal wards but Matias Degra dived acrobatically to tip the ball over the bar.
That was as close as it got for the home side as the game drifted into a training ground exercise with AEL dominating but not creating anything clear cut. The only thing to liven up proceedings was a tangle between Mark McAllister and Dossa Junior which saw the big Limassol defender go in the book.
The second half continued in much the same vein as AEL were content to run down the clock and Linfield seemed reluctant to commit too many bodies forward for fear of being stretched at the back by the visitors pace on the break.
Peter Thompson did have a shot saved on 67 minutes but they couldn’t garner enough possession to seriously trouble the Cypriots who showed why they won their domestic championship with a comprehensive aggregate victory.
Linfield: Alan Blayney; Jim Ervin, Steven Douglas, William Murphy, David Armstrong; BJBurns, Robert Garrett (Daryl Fordyce 81), Ryan Henderson (Michael Carvill 77), Jamie Mulgrew; Mark McAllister (Gary Browne 84), Peter Thompson.
Subs Not Used: Ross Glendenning, Damien Curran, Nathan Hanley, Matthew Tipton.
AEL Limassol: Matias Degra; Maykon Arajo, Dossa Junior, Edwin Ouon, Carlos Tavares; Luciano Bebe, Marios Nicolaou (Michalis Konstantinou 75): Rui Miguel (Dede Carvalho 68), Sergio Paulo, Edmar Lacerda (Chris Dickson 59); Patrick Vouho.
Subs Not Used: Isli Hidi, Stelios Parpas, Jorge Montero, Gilberto Sebastiao
Referee: Martin Strombergsson (Sweden)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Edmar Lacerda (AEL Limassol)