Belfast Telegraph

Wolves tie will prove huge financial boost to Crusaders

B36 Torshavn 2 Crusaders 3 (Crusaders won 5-2 on agg)

Heat is on: Paul Heatley fires in Crusaders’ opener last night
Heat is on: Paul Heatley fires in Crusaders’ opener last night

By Graham Luney

Crusaders can finally start hunting Wolves.

Stephen Baxter and his men are celebrating after earning a glamour Europa League second qualifying round showdown with the classy English Premier League side.

A 2-0 first-leg lead over B36 Torshavn left the Shore Road side in a commanding position but the mission still needed to be completed in foggy conditions last night.

The Crues got off to the perfect start when Jordan Forsythe's free-kick found the net in the third minute and Paul Heatley's 28th minute strike left the hosts searching for a miracle in Gundadalur.

Hugin Samuelsen pulled a goal back in the 37th minute and when Lukasz Cieslewicz levelled the scores after the break it was clear the job wasn't done but Heatley's second on 68 minutes crushed comeback hopes.

Wolves, who finished seventh in the Premier League last season and also reached the FA Cup semi-finals, are also trying to keep a lid on their excitement as they prepare for their first major European fixture in 39 years.

Nuno Espirito Santo's men will play the first leg at Molineux next Thursday before travelling to Seaview for the second leg on August 1.

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While the Crues players, management and supporters will savour the special occasion, the glamour game also represents a huge financial boost for the club.

With ticket sales, television revenue and marketing opportunities set to emerge, Crusaders will hope to take their European revenue towards the £1m mark.

Progress to the second qualifying round has banked the Crues €500,000 (£449,423) and the Wolves fixture will keep the money coming in.

Nuno took points off Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, and beat Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Maurizio Sarri last season. Now Baxter has the unenviable task of landing a blow on Wolves.

It will take more than a tactical masterclass to win at Molineux but, regardless of the scoreline, the historic clash will capture the attention of Irish League fans.

Goals from Chris Hegarty and Philip Lowry in the first leg had left the Hatchetmen confident of finishing the job but they still needed to produce a professional performance in the Faroe Islands.

The Crues have been bitten before on the European stage so complacency wasn't an option, particularly with the added incentive of facing Conor Coady and his hungry Wolves side.

B36 Torshavn manager Jakub a Borg believed his team could overturn their two-goal deficit but their bubble was burst as early as the third minute.

Set-piece magician Forsythe conjured up something special again, hammering a free-kick into the roof of the net.

The hosts knew they had a mountain to climb and their task became even more unlikely when Heatley produced a clinical finish to double his side's lead in the 28th minute.

B36 Torshavn pulled a goal back in the 37 minute when Hugin Samuelsen forced the ball home and the Crues had to absorb more pressure towards the interval.

Jordan Owens' header failed to beat Jorgensen but the Crues led 2-1 at the break, 4-1 on aggregate. The home side threatened a comeback when Cieslewicz levelled the scores on the night in the 51st minute but the dangerous Heatley grabbed his second on 68 minutes after a sublime pass from substitute Rory Hale.

Stefan Radosavlevic missed a good late opportunity for the hosts whose European dream was slipping away.

In contrast, Crusaders will live the dream when they pack their bags for Molineux next week.

B36 Torshavn: Jorgensen, Naes (Gilli Samuelsen 83), Eriksen, Petersen, Erling Jacobsen (Przybylski 62), Nielsen, Magnus Jacobsen, Frederiksberg, Radosavlevic, Hugin Samuelsen (Agnarsson 71), Cieslewicz. Subs not used: Hansen, Mellemgaard, Brian Jakobsen, Thomsen.

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Hegarty, Beverland, Ruddy, Forsythe (Thompson 86), Caddell (Rory Hale 65) Lowry, Clarke, Jordan Owens (Cushley 83), Heatley. Subs not used: Harry Doherty, Ward, Ronan Hale, O'Rourke.

Referee: Milovan Milacic (Montenegro)

Man of match: Paul Heatley.

Match rating: 7/10.

Belfast Telegraph


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