Europa League heartbreak for Linfield as Qarabag win on away goals in Baku

Thu, Aug 29 2019

Jaime Romero, pictured during a 1-1 draw with Dundalk in round two, opened the scoring for Qarabag. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Linfield missed out on a historic first-ever Europa League group stage spot on away goals as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Azerbaijan champions Qarabag in Baku on Thursday.

Shayne Lavery’s injury-time goal wasn’t enough for the Blues, who had seen their first-leg lead wiped out after just six minutes through Jaime Romero.

Abdellah Zoubir put the game beyond Linfield’s reach when he made it 2-0 two minutes from time but there was still time for Lavery to set up a nervy finish.

Linfield arrived in Baku with a 3-2 lead from the first leg in Windsor Park, when Lavery scored twice following Mark Stafford’s header.

Qarabag had taken the lead early in that game through Faycal Rherras and Magaye Gueye scored a penalty in injury that left Linfield with little margin for error.

Disaster struck within six minutes as Romero, who opened the scoring when Dundalk were beaten 3-0 in Baku in the second qualifying round, finished off a one-two to put Qarabag ahead on away goals.

Linfield pressed hard for the goal that would have put them back in front on aggregate, but they were stung by a long ball two minutes from time and Zoubir rounded Rohan Ferguson.

There was time for further drama three minutes into injury time as Lavery volleyed home Jordan Stewart’s cross but it was too little too late for David Healy’s side.