Andy Waterworth spot on as Linfield keep up Europa League bid
Linfield 1 HB Torshavn 0
Linfield's European adventure goes on. Andy Waterworth saw to that at Windsor Park as he continued his record breaking exploits for the club.
Waterworth's 20th minute penalty proved the difference on the night against HB Torshavn and in the tie overall ensuring that Linfield came out on top in the Europa League second qualifying round clash.
Last week in the Faroe Islands the striker scored twice in a 2-2 draw to become the club's leading scorer in Europe on six.
He was on the spot to make it seven after the excellent Joel Cooper had been brought down inside the area. Waterworth is now two goals ahead of Linfield legends Arthur Thomas, Phil Scott and Glenn Ferguson who netted five times each in Europe.
More importantly, David Healy's side are in the next round and have a meeting with FK Sutjeska from Montenegro to savour with the opening leg away from home next Tuesday.
The 3-2 aggregate success not only means the Blues have two more Europa League encounters to contemplate, it also guarantees them £1 million in Uefa prize money.
The Blues dropped into the Europa League after losing to Rosenborg in the Champions League and have made hay since.
Healy will fancy his chances against the Montenegrans though was keen to pay tribute to his players' showing last night.
"It was a fantastic result for us and it's great to make it into the next round," said the Blues boss.
"They were not an easy team to play against but we were solid at the back and caused a threat at the other end. Joel Cooper did superbly to win the penalty and Andy was calm putting it away."
Healy deserves credit himself. A scoreless draw would have been good enough to see the Blues through on away goals but he opted for an attacking line-up intent on winning the game.
Captain Jamie Mulgrew and new signing Bastien Hery were in the middle of the park with Jordan Stewart, Cooper and Daniel Kearns included to provide the ammunition for Waterworth.
Before the match Healy had asked for the Linfield fans to be vocal for the home leg and there was plenty of encouragement from the fans early on.
Eight minutes in French midfielder Hery sent Waterworth clear only for visiting goalkeeper Bjarti Mork to make a fine save.
Waterworth would not miss when presented with his next chance created by Cooper. With some dazzling skill and an impressive turn of pace Cooper raced past Jogvan Roi Davidsen on the left flank, forcing the defender to bring the winger down in the box.
Up stepped Waterworth who clinically despatched the penalty. Number seven in Europe for Linfield's magnificent number seven. After finding the net from the spot, the forward ran to the jubilant fans in the Kop to celebrate.
Waterworth was close to number two seconds before the break just failing to connect with a wonderful Chris Casement cross.
Linfield were on top in the second period with Cooper a constant thorn in Torshavn's side. Jordan Stewart, Hery and Kearns had their moments too.
Out of the blue, Casement presented HB with a golden opportunity on 67 to get back into tie with a misplaced back pass.
Thankfully for the Irish League side Simun Samuelsen failed to take advantage screwing his shot wide when he ought to have scored.
There were no more scares after that. Job done for Linfield.