Guy Bates blasts Linfield right to brink of Euro progress
Guy Bates is the new darling of Windsor Park. The gangling striker, signed controversially form Glenavon over the summer, grabbed a precious second goal for Linfield in last night's Europa League tie to give Warren Feeney's boys a great chance of grabbing a second round spot.
His strike partner Andy Waterworth, who was given the captain's armband, shot the Blues into the lead soon after the interval, before Bates sent the home fans into raptures with a sensational second.
Should the Blues complete the job in next week's second leg, it will be the fourth time since 2012 that they have sent a side from the Faroe Islands packing.
It was the home defence who displayed early nerves, allowing Ara Frederiksberg to cut inside to find Jaraldur Hojgaard, who blazed his shot over the crossbar.
Jens Joensen was then allowed time and space to pick out the dangerous Frederiksberg, who drilled his shot well wide.
Linfield at last began to assert their authority and almost sneaked into the lead on eight minutes when Sean Ward picked out Waterworth whose audacious flick sent Bates hurtling into the box, but he could only shoot weakly at goalkeeper Andras Gango.
Then Waterworth's pace exposed the Faroese defence. Sadly he screwed his effort wide of the target when he really should have done better.
Runavik were always dangerous on the break and on one lightning movement Magnus Olsen threaded a wonderful pass to Frederiksberg, whose vicious low drive was superbly plucked to safety by Ross Glendinnning.
But the Blues were gradually getting to grips with their opponents. Bates was crudely bundled over by defender Per Langgard, but the big striker's free kick was easily plucked out of the top corner by Gango.
Ward was next to try his luck. He picked up a Stephen Lowry pass before bringing the best out of Gango with a blistering 25 yard drive. The Blues fans were on their feet seconds later when Lowry's cross was headed home by Waterworth - only to be flagged for offside.
And just before the interval the home crowd were howling for a penalty when Aaron Burns' cross was cleverly headed back into the box by new boy David Kee for Waterworth, who appeared to be bundled over by Monrad Jacobsen. Referee Petr Ardeleanu wasn't impressed.
The Blues came out with all guns blazing after the break.
Ivan Sproule had a shot hoofed off the line before Waterworth struck. Sproule's corner was headed back across the face of the goal for the big striker to volley home.
It got even better when Bates tricked his way into the box, leaving a defender for dead before slotting the ball into the bottom corner.
Glendinning produced the save of the night eight minutes before the finish. Frederiksberg's free kick came off the head of Burns and with the ball arrowing into the top corner, the big shot stopper launched himself to pull off a wonderful stop.
LINFIELD: Ross Glendinning, Hegarty (Reece Glendinning 64 ),Haughey, Ward, M Clarke, Lowry, Burns, Waterworth, Sproule, Kee, Bates (Milla 88). Substitutes: Deane, Murray, Wallace, Quinn, Patton. Goals: Waterworth 57, Bates 73.
NSI RUNAVIK: Gango, Langgard, M Jacobsen, Joensen (Edmundsson 74), K Olsen, A Frederiksberg, Johannus, J Jacobsen, J Frederiksberg (J Hojgaard 69), Magnus Olsen, H Hojgaard (Mortensen 62). Substitutes: Gaardbo, Przybylski, Meinhard Olsen, Hansen.
Man of match: Andy Waterworth (Linfield). Referee: Petr Ardeleanu (Czech Republic).