Warren Feeney delighted as Linfield march on
Linfield 1-1 B36 Torshavn (Linfield win 3-2 on aggregate)
Warren Feeney's Linfield reign has started with a European success story, pocketing the club just over £95,000.
The Blues finished the job at their temporary Mourneview Park home last night, seeing off the challenge of B36 Torshavn to book a Europa League second round qualifying battle with AIK Solna, Stockholm.
Linfield's 100th Uefa clash will be back in Lurgan next Thursday against the Swedish giants after a 1-1 draw sealed a 3-2 aggregate triumph.
Michael Carvill poked Linfield ahead in the 17th minute and a 46th minute equaliser from Adeshina Lawal wasn't enough to turn the tide for the tourists.
"I'm pleased because we are miles off their fitness levels," said Feeney. "In the second half a few of our boys were cramping up, which is to be expected. It is a great achievement. Their two goals were set-pieces, a free-kick and a penalty.
"The boys dug in well. We had to keep our shape and not let them through us. It's about the boys now playing a free game against a top outfit and expressing themselves.
"I wasn't technically gifted myself but I had a desire to succeed and all I want is honesty from the players and a desire to play for the shirt. They put us under pressure but we weathered the storm, held on and we can be excited about the next two matches."
Torshavn looked hungry to grab an early goal to unsettle the Blues but keeper Jonny Tuffey dealt comfortably with two tame efforts from Lawal and Lukasz Cieslewicz.
Andy Waterworth looked lively leading from the front but he couldn't fashion a clear cut opening.
However, the former Glentoran favourite did deliver a dangerous cross in the 17th minute that was knocked across goal by Aaron Burns and Carvill slotted the ball home from close range.
It was the goal Linfield needed to settle nerves and it left their opponents deflated.
Feeney's men were getting plenty of joy down the right flank with Ivan Sproule covering the ground like a greyhound.
Chris Hegarty, wearing the captain's armband, headed clear a goal bound effort from Klaemint Matras but five minutes before the break Sproule should have doubled the scoring, his weak shot was never going to trouble keeper Tordur Thomsen.
Seconds before the interval, Waterworth's stinging angled drive bounced back off the post.
If Linfield thought the tie was over they were made to think again a minute after the restart when Torshavn made it 3-2 on aggregate.
The Blues defence was napping as Lawal sprinted clear only to be upended by Tuffey. The resultant penalty was coolly slotted home by the striker. Hegarty was booked for a robust challenge as the visitors found an extra gear.
Feeney looked for a fresh impetus in attack by introducing Peter Thompson for Waterworth in the 68th minute.
Linfield fans were nervous with the tie still on a knife edge and substitute Rasmus Sorensen almost watched his glancing header nestle in the bottom corner of the net.
It was a nervous finish for Feeney and co. but they live to fight another day in Europe.
LINFIELD: Tuffey, Richards, Hegarty, Haughey, M. Clarke, Lowry, Burns (R Clarke, 72), Mulgrew, Waterworth (Thompson, 68), Carvill (Callacher, 86), Sproule.
B36 TORSHAVN: Thomsen, Faerq, H. Askham, Eysturoy, Jacobsen, Mellemgaard, Matras (Sørensen, 84) Thorleifsson (A. Cieslewicz, 52), L. Cieslewicz, Poulsen, Lawal.
Referee: Thoroddur Hjaltalin (Iceland)