Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Cliftonville's dream is snatched away

Nordsjaelland 2 Cliftonville 1

By Graham Luney

It's called the Right to Dream Park stadium and for a while Cliftonville were writing a fairytale but in the end their brave European adventure came to an end.

A sixth minute penalty from Joe Gormley threatened a huge upset but the impressive Nordsjælland side netted twice in the second half to allay their fears.

Godsway Donyoh found the target and an own goal from Jamie Harney killed off Barry Gray's side who go out 3-1 on aggregate.

Cliftonville weren't in holiday mood and the game's early exchanges reinforced that professional attitude. Far from absorbing early pressure the Reds showed early attacking purpose and they were handsomely rewarded when a spot-kick was awarded.

Clinton Antwi fouled Chris Curran and Gormley stepped up to ruthlessly punish the hosts with a coolly taken penalty.

That goal stung the Danes but they couldn't muster a quick response. In the 29th minute the home side missed a good chance to equalise as Nikolai Baden Frederiksen fired his shot wide.

The Reds defence continued to live dangerously but Nordsjaelland struggled to find a cutting edge.

With the tie 1-1 on aggregate Cliftonville still had a huge task ahead of them but were able to shut out their slick opponents in the opening half.

In the 53rd minute substitute Donyoh rattled the woodwork as the north Belfast side breathed a sigh of relief. Five minutes later Donyoh made no mistake to slot in the equaliser and edge ahead in the tie.

The Reds had another escape in the 63rd minute when Nicklas Strunck hit the post with his effort.

Then Harney's unfortunate own goal in the 83rd minute killed off the tie.

Cliftonville had never recovered from a home deficit in UEFA competition but they gave it a real go in Denmark.

Belfast Telegraph

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