ROSENBORG 7 CRUSADERS 2 Rosenborg win 9-3 on aggregate. Crusaders were reunited with the top seeds in the Europa League first qualifying round draw and Rosenborg once again proved to be too hot to handle over the two legs.
The Crues went to Trondheim trailing 2-1 from the first battle at Seaview – and without experienced centre-back David Magowan who was on his honeymoon.
The Shore Road side's love affair with Europe ended for another year as the Norwegian giants flexed their muscles to cruise to a 7-2 win at Lerkendal Stadion, triumphing 9-3 on aggregate.
The Hatchetmen did net second half goals through Paul Leeman and Jordan Owens but they were cut open by the ruthless hosts who netted five times after the restart. At least striker Owens can now reflect on the fact he is the club's top marksman in European football, with three strikes to his name.
Baxter said the scoreline failed to reflect the balance of the play. "I thought we played fantastically well but we are disappointed at the number of goals scored against, at least three of which should not have happened.
"Their finishing was clinical and there is a gulf in class between the teams but Jordan scored the goal of the game as well as missing an easy chance and we were punished for making a few mistakes. They play at a high tempo on their big pitch but I was pleased with our commitment, work ethic and the level of performance."
Crues keeper Sean O'Neill was called into action in the early moments, pulling off a superb save to deny Borek Dockal.
Eamon McAllister tested the alertness of keeper Alexander Lund Hansen but the Rosenborg number one passed the test.
Crusaders' resistance was broken in the 15th minute as Jon Inge Hoiland swooped to bury a near post header, the veteran right-back reacting quickest to Ole Selaes' cross. The hosts struck again in the 34th minute with Nigerian dangerman John Chibuike, who scored in the first leg, finding the net with a fine header. The visitors made a dream start to the second half when Leeman tapped home from close range following a Chris Morrow free-kick in the 49th minute.
It was Leeman's first European goal and he said afterwards: "My goal was a tap-in from about a yard but I was glad to take it. I must have played over 30 games in Europe and that was my first."
The smiles on Crues faces didn't last long as Chibuike grabbed his second a minute later, supplying the finish from Dockal's set-up.
Two quick-fire goals from Dockal (57) and Tobias Mikkelsen (60) twisted the knife into the Hatchetmen.
Jordan Owens, who lit up the opening leg with a stunning strike, repeated the trick from 25 yards to reduce the deficit to 5-2 in the 68th minute. Even the home fans applauded the thunderbolt but Alexander Sorloth (72) and Jonas Svensson (90), scorer of the second goal at Seaview, completed the rout. Rosenborg will now face Tommy Wright's St Johnstone in the next round.
Rosenborg: Lund Hansen, Dorsin (Gamboa 46), Ronning, Hoiland, Moe, Jensen, Dockal, Chibuike (Sorloth 60), Bernsten (Svensson 73), Seinaes, Mikkelsen. Subs: Orlund, Reginiussen, Strandberg, Alas.
Crusaders: O'Neill, Robinson (McMaster 64), Leeman, Coates, McClean; McAllister, Morrow, Watson (King 63), Heatley (McCutcheon 63), Snoddy, Owens. Subs: Subs not used: Lacroix, Adamson, Hanley, Cleary.
Referee: Aleksei Kulbakov (BLR).
* Malmo defeated Drogheda United 2-0 in Sweden, securing a 2-0 win in their Europa League qualifier to book a clash against Hibernian. St. Pat's lost 2-1 at home to Zalgiris Vilnius, 3-4 on aggregate.