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Linfield will need to step it up to progress after emotional roller coaster in Faroes, admits Healy

HB Torshavn 2 Linfield 2

History boy: Andy Waterworth became Linfield’s all-time record
goalscorer in Europe with his double against HB Torshavn
History boy: Andy Waterworth became Linfield’s all-time record goalscorer in Europe with his double against HB Torshavn

By Steven Beacom

Linfield manager David Healy described last night's Europa League clash in the Faroe Islands against HB Torshavn as "an emotional rollercoaster".

After the 2-2 draw, Healy also spoke about his surprise that his players looked "starstruck" in the first half of the opening leg of the second qualifying round tie.

It was an honest admission from Healy, who is determined that his players finish the job at Windsor Park next week, reach the next stage and guarantee the club around £1m from this season's European adventures.

On a testing night for the Blues, striker Andy Waterworth and debutant goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson were the heroes.

Waterworth scored on 51 seconds and netted an 88th-minute penalty to make him the club's record goal-getter in Europe with six strikes. But HB Torshavn equalised twice, the second of which really disappointed Healy given that it came so quickly after the visitors had grabbed what looked like the winning goal.

In between Waterworth's brace, Ferguson produced some superb saves in his first outing for Linfield after arriving on loan from Motherwell last week.

If the finish frustrated the Linfield boss, he will know the result offers his team a golden opportunity in the return leg at Windsor to progress and land a meeting with the loser of the Champions League game between FK Sutjeska (Montenegro) and Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus).

Healy will also be aware his team must play better than they did in the Faroes. For long periods, HB Torshavn were on top. They had 22 attempts on goal, 13 of which were on target, compared to Linfield's four.

"It was an emotional rollercoaster. We got off to the best possible start when Chris Casement knocked in a good cross and Andy Waterworth did what Andy does and put the ball in the net," said Healy.

"Then in the next 25 minutes we were put under immense pressure and our goalkeeper produced two or three heroic saves.

"We looked a little bit starstruck for some reason, even though Torshavn aren't like the glamorous Rosenborg or Celtic sides we have faced in Europe in recent years. We addressed that at half-time and I thought in the second half we were much improved.

"We got a penalty at the right time and you are thinking, 'Can we see it out?' The disappointing thing is to concede the goal in the manner that we did straight after we scored, then Rohan pulled off another great save to stop us losing the game."

Waterworth's early goal courtesy of a brilliant Chris Casement cross was his sixth in European football for Linfield. He now stands head of the club's charts in continental competition.

While the ex-Glentoran forward is an experienced campaigner at this level, 21-year-old Ferguson, fresh from joining on loan from Motherwell last week, was making his debut due to a Gareth Deane injury. He was excellent, pulling off a number of fine stops in the opening half-hour, including one with his legs to deny Ari Mohr Olsen.

The Scottish goalkeeper couldn't prevent Adrian Justinussen making it 1-1 from the penalty spot on 37 minutes, though, after Jordan Stewart brought down Hordur Askham in the box.

The home side kept coming, with Linfield's French midfielder Bastien Hery doing well to clear off his line and Askham heading wide when he ought to have scored. At the other end, Daniel Kearns had an effort well saved by Teitur Gestsson, who later would keep out a fine strike from Stewart.

In the 88th minute, Waterworth thought he had won it with a penalty after Askham had felled substitute Kirk Millar, but within 60 seconds Petersen had made it 2-2 with a goal that could have been prevented.

It could have been worse for the Blues but for another super save from Ferguson in injury-time.

Now all roads lead to Windsor next Thursday, with Healy calling for an atmosphere to inspire his team.

Belfast Telegraph


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