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They made it so difficult for us: Chris Baird

Chris Baird paid a glowing tribute to Crusaders last night after the Carling Premiership side gave Premier League outfit Fulham an almighty scare in the Europa League.

This was no one-sided demolition job as Stephen Baxter's merry band of part-timers were dreaming of an extraordinary stalemate when the second round qualifying tie was level at 1-1 in the second half.

Striker Timmy Adamson produced a stunning equaliser after Matthew Briggs fired Martin Jol's side in front but two goals in the last 16 minutes shattered the hosts' dreams.

The Cottagers were made to sweat but a Bobby Zamora header and Danny Murphy penalty saw them bounce off the ropes in style.

"Crusaders made it very hard for us and I knew that would be the case," said the Northern Ireland international, who almost scored with a long-range strike.

"I knew it wouldn't be straightforward. It was a tough game for us but we came here to do a job and we have done that, putting us in a good position for the second leg.

"You have to give them credit, they were a tough team to play. It was not rustiness on our part. We were a bit sloppy ourselves as we went 1-0 up and didn't build on that.

"We took our foot off the pedal and they had the chance to go 2-1 up (when Timmy Adamson struck the crossbar).

"We knew after that we had to step things up and, thankfully, we got the two goals. The tie is never over but we will always fancy our chances at Craven Cottage against anyone."

Belfast Telegraph