Belfast Telegraph

Owens believes Crusaders can write another success story

 

By Graham Luney

Jordan Owens is confident Crusaders can find their ruthless streak in Latvia tonight and celebrate more European heroics.

The Crues have savoured a few continental highlights in recent seasons including a Champions League win over Levadia Tallinn and Europa League success against Ekranas.

Last season's draw was unkind to Stephen Baxter's side as it pitted them against Danish giants FC Copenhagen but there are fresh hopes of progress after a 3-1 first leg triumph over FK Liepaja.

The Crues travel to the Daugava Stadium with one eye on the second qualifying round of the Europa League after goals from Owens, Philip Lowry and Michael Carvill rattled their opponents, who hit back through Arturs Karasausks.

Baxter's boys still face a tough assignment but striker Owens feels they can finish the job.

"The boys are confident we can get the job done," said Owens. "I felt we were brilliant in the first half in the first game, considering it was our first competitive game and, as expected, we tired a little after the hour mark.

"They are a good side and started to knock the ball around later on but if you had offered us a 3-1 lead we would have taken it.

"But we have shown before that we can score away from home in Europe and I am sure we will create chances. It's important we produce a disciplined performance with a good shape and take a chance when it comes.

"They are a full-time side who are 13 games into their league season so they are going to be fit and dangerous but they struggled to deal with a few set-pieces and if can get the ball into the box we can cause them damage.

"Progress in Europe is a big financial windfall for the club and it keeps everything ticking over. Everyone wants to get a bit of the funding now and we saw how delighted Ballymena United were to get into Europe.

"It's a great experience for Irish League players even if we are up against it because of the timing of the season. Next year we want to be playing in the Champions League qualifiers and we will fight for that."

The winners of the tie will take on Shakhtyor Soligorsk of Belarus or Suduva of Lithuania in the second qualifying round, their first leg having ended 0-0.

FK Liepaja

Crusaders

Europa League First Qualifying Round:

Daugava Stadium, tonight, 5.45pm

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