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Delirious Crusaders hoover up £0.5 million Euro jackpot

By Stuart McKinley

Published 08/07/2015

EU beauty: Sean O'Neill and Paul Heatley celebrate Crusaders' away goal win in Estonia
EU beauty: Sean O'Neill and Paul Heatley celebrate Crusaders' away goal win in Estonia
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter said he could sense his team's hunger to qualify

Crusaders are celebrating after hitting a massive £525,000 jackpot and making European history.

The Danske Bank Premiership champions blazed their way into the second qualifying round of the Champions League thanks to a 1-1 draw with Levadia Tallinn of Estonia, which gave them victory - their first ever in the competition - on away goals.

And the prize for that is an extra £210,000 to add to the £140,000 they were already guaranteed for playing in the first round of the competition.

Now the challenge for the Crues is to go further than any Irish League club has done in the Champions League era by beating Albanian side Skenderbeu Korce to make it to the third round, where there is another massive bonus of £280,000 awaiting.

Even if they lose that tie - the first leg of which is in Albania next week - the Shore Road club will collect £175,000 as Uefa's way of softening the blow for champions who don't make it through to the group stages, meaning they are already guaranteed to bank £525,000 from this summer's European adventure.

Michael Carvill scored the all-important goal after just four minutes and although Siim Luts equalised from a free kick 18 minutes later that solitary strike was enough for the Crues.

Manager Stephen Baxter said: "I knew in the dressing room. When you do a team talk and you give your last words to them and when they rally behind that and they all scream 'let's do this' you know you have a hungry bunch of players.

Belfast Telegraph

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