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Coleraine shock NK Maribor in Europa League qualifying victory worth extra £230k



James McLaughlin added to last week's winner with another stunning European strike.

James McLaughlin added to last week's winner with another stunning European strike.

James McLaughlin added to last week's winner with another stunning European strike.

Coleraine have secured one of the all-time great Irish League results in European football and with it an additional £232,000.

The Bannsiders edged past NK Maribor 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw after extra-time in Slovenia.

The visitors had been 8/1 outsiders, Maribor rated as 1/14 favourites to progress to the next round before the game.

Those odds were understandable, given that this Slovenian side have made it through to the group stage of European competition five times in the past decade. Two of those came in the Champions League, during which they secured draws with the likes of Chelsea, Sporting CP and Sevilla.

But they came unstuck against Oran Kearney's well-organised side, who had even led, albeit briefly, through a James McLaughlin thunderbolt before Rudi Pozeg levelled.

In the end, five perfect penalties earned the victory in the shoot-out.

Ian Parkhill, the outstanding Lyndon Kane, Gareth McConaghie and Eoin Bradley all converted and when Maribor's fifth spot-kick struck the post, it was left for Ben Doherty to atone for his miss in the Irish Cup semi-final and secure the victory.

Based on last season's prize money, the result is worth an estimated €260,000 (£232,000) to the club, taking their European prize money for the summer so far to an astounding €720,000 (£644,000).

The Bannsiders will now discover their second qualifying round opponents in the draw on Monday, with the game scheduled to take place on Thursday, September 17. As they will be unseeded, their potential opponents include the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan and Rangers.

In terms of the Irish League as a whole, the result will help to boost Northern Ireland up the European coefficient ranking and brings the league's total estimated European prize money for the summer to €1.95m (£1.75m).

Thanks to Linfield's progress through the Champions League preliminary round, they are now due to land at least €770,000 (£690,000) in European prize money, based on last season's solidarity payments.

Similarly, Coleraine's progress through two Europa League rounds has landed them that €720,000 (£644,000) while Glentoran pocketed €460,000 (£413,000) for their progress through the Europa League preliminary round.

It was goal-scorer McLaughlin, of course, who put Coleraine through with a late winner against La Fiorita last week. His first touch for that one was rightly lauded but, somehow, he bettered it in Slovenia.

In fact, it only took one touch to lash an unstoppable volley into the bottom corner from outside the box to stun the hosts.

Unfortunately for the Bannsiders, they couldn't make that lead last even four minutes as substitute Rudi Pozeg slammed the leveller into an open net after getting on the end of a right-wing cross at the back post.

Before all that, the Bannsiders had been pinned into their own half for large spells of the first half and will have considered themselves fortune to go in level.

The best chance fell to striker Aljoe Matko, making his club debut after returning from a loan spell at Bravo. Rok Kronaveter worked space well inside the box and when he whipped in a low cross, the goal was gaping for Matko, who could only skew and effort wide of the back post.

Coleraine's best chance of the first half came in the opening seconds when Stephen Lowry - on his 250th appearance for the club - cross for Josh Carson to climb highest in the box but couldn't direct a header on target.

McLaughlin's barn-storming effort opened the scores shortly after the hour-mark, rifled into the bottom corner, but the Bannsiders couldn't make the lead last, as a troublesome right-wing cross allowed Pozeg to slam home in acres of space at the back post.

The Bannsiders did manage to hold out and send the game into extra-time and continued to frustrate their hosts as Mesanovic saw a smashed shot superbly saved by Gareth Deane and substitute Marcos Tavares curled an effort wide, searching for his 32nd European goal.

It seemed Maribor would take the lead just before half-time in extra-time when they won a penalty but substitute Amir Dervisevic smashed the bar. How crucial a goal-line clearance by Lyndon Kane proved, on reflection, as the right-back refused to let the ball cross the line when the referee briefly played on before awarding the spot-kick.

The Bannsiders successfully managed to see out the second period of extra-time without complication, the penalty victory completed after Maribor's fifth taker struck the post.

All north coast eyes are now on Nyon for Monday's draw.

Maribor: Jug, Viler, Milec, Mitrovic, Pericic, Kronaveter (Mlakar 84), Cretu, Pihler (Dervisevic 102), Kramaric (Tavares 61), Mesanovic, Matko (Pozeg 61). Unused subs: Handanovic, Koblar, Klinar

Coleraine: Deane, Kane, Canning, O'Donnell, Traynor (McConaghie 105), Carson, Lowry, Jarvis (Wilson 72), Nixon (Bradley 85), McLaughlin (Parkhill 95), Doherty. Unused subs: Gallagher, Tweed, McGuckin

Belfast Telegraph