Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine have only pride to play for after being taught lesson

FK Haugesund 7 - 0 Coleraine

By Adam McKendry

Coleraine have a near impossible task on their hands to reach the second qualifying round of the Europa League after they were humbled 7-0 by Norwegian side FK Haugesund.

Haugesund, who are currently eighth in the Norwegian Eliteserien, flexed their muscles and took advantage of being at home in the first leg to outclass Oran Kearney's men, who will return with their tails between their legs.

It was always going to be a tough test for the Bannsiders, but this was a disappointing performance from a side hoping to close the gap to the top two in the Irish League this year.

The writing was on the wall early on as Adam Mullan was forced to clear the ball off his own line in just the third minute, although Coleraine did threaten themselves as new signing Josh Carson tested Helge Sandvik in the Haugesund goal.

But the hosts took a 10th-minute lead, winger Sondre Tronstad firing past stand-in keeper Michael Dougherty, while at the other end Carson had a brilliant chance to equalise only to hit it straight at Sandvik.

Two late first-half goals put Haugesund in complete control and shattered Coleraine's confidence, first Ali Abdi spinning and rifling home inside the box in the 33rd minute and then Haris Hajradinovic powering home a header in the 42nd.

Eoin Bradley had the visitors' best chance at the start of the second half, forcing Sandvik into another smart save, but Coleraine would rue that miss as Lalle Ibrahim made it four soon after.

Ibrahim doubled his tally with Haugesund's fifth in the 51st minute, while the Bannsiders still could not find the breakthrough they desperately needed as Brad Lyons saw his header stopped by the resolute Sandvik.

Two substitutes added the sixth and seventh for the Norwegians as Erik Huseklepp and Johnny Buduson both found the back of the net to add insult to injury for Kearney's men.

Despite notching their seventh in just the 71st minute, Haugesund couldn't increase that total, happy to round the game out with the sizeable lead.

The second leg is next Thursday at the Showgrounds, and barring a miraculous result, Coleraine are left playing only for pride.

Elsewhere in the Europa League, Cork City took a major step towards the second qualifying round with an impressive 2-0 away win against Levadia Tallinn, handing their opponents their first defeat since October.

Garry Buckley's low drive from a free-kick turned the tie in the Rebel Army's favour, compounding Levadia's misery having lost central defender Tabi Manga moments earlier, his trip on a flying Sean Maguire earning him a second yellow and his marching orders.

Steven Beattie settled the game, and most likely the tie, rounding off Shane Griffin's penetrating run by hammering the ball home.

Shamrock Rovers are out to atone for last season's poor European showing and they recorded a 1-0 first-leg win over Stjarnan in Iceland.

Gary Shaw's 38th-minute goal gives his side the slender lead.

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