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'I've never been more proud': Larne boss Tiernan Lynch reflects on shock win over Aarhus GF

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Larne FC's Ronan Hale scores past AGF goalkeeper Jesper Hansen

Larne FC's Ronan Hale scores past AGF goalkeeper Jesper Hansen

AP

Larne's Fuad Sule and Patrick Mortensen of AGF

Larne's Fuad Sule and Patrick Mortensen of AGF

©INPHO/Bo Amstrup

Ronan Hales celebrates with Mark Randall and Davy McDaid. Photo: Andrew Scullion

Ronan Hales celebrates with Mark Randall and Davy McDaid. Photo: Andrew Scullion

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Larne FC's Ronan Hale scores past AGF goalkeeper Jesper Hansen

LARNE boss Tiernan Lynch described his team’s stunning victory over AGF Aarhus as his proudest moment in football.

The Invermen came away from Ceres Park with a 1-1 draw against the Danish Superliga side, to record a 3-2 aggregate victory.

It is an incredible achievement against the much-fancied Danes, who finished with 10 men, and Lynch’s side now progress to take on Portuguese side Pacos de Ferreira.

Lynch hailed his players’ achievement afterwards, saying: “I told the players that I have never, ever been more proud of any group I have worked with.

“That’s not just the 11 players on the pitch, it’s the staff and all of the work which has gone into this.

“We talked before the match about wanting to give the fans back at Inver Park something to cheer about and hopefully we have done that.

“It was a difficult night, we rode our luck at times and it wasn’t necessarily our best performance.

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“It was all about the result though and we ground it out. We showed hunger, drive and refused to be beaten and that bodes well for the season ahead.”

Larne went into the game with the same starting XI that claimed an unexpected 2-1 victory at Inver last week.

Aarhus began with real conviction, clearly stung from the criticism which came their way after that shock defeat.

Their first opportunity came after just five minutes. Albert Gronbaek lined up a fierce free-kick 25 yards from goal which goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson did well to punch to safety.

Larne began to grow into the game with their midfield three of Mark Randall, John Herron and Lee Lynch starting to see more of the ball.

In was Lynch who had Larne’s best opportunity of the early exchanges. Davy McDaid did well to lead a breakaway from an AGF corner and he slipped the ball to his right to the midfielder. After taking a touch inside the area, Lynch’s shot lacked the power to beat Jesper Hansen.

Aarhus went close themselves five minutes later, as Alexander Munksgaard’s cross from the right found Oliver Lund at the back post, but the midfielder headed just wide.

The game then exploded into life on 26 minutes. AGF playmaker Patrick Olsen went down inside the box and received a yellow card for his troubles.

This led to a flare up, with Icelandic winger Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson picking up a second yellow card after an altercation with Dean Jarvis.

Despite being a man short, the best chance of the night up until that point fell the way of he home side.

Polish striker Dawid Kurminowski got behind the Larne defence, but Ferguson was quickly off his line to make a smart save, with skipper Jeff Hughes mopping up the danger.

Just as it looked like the two sides would go into the break on level terms, Larne shocked their Danish hosts with the opening goal on 45 minutes.

The Invermen intercepted the ball deep into the Aarhus half with Randall playing a one-two with McDaid. The former Arsenal midfielder had the presence of mind to slip the ball into the path of Ronan Hale — only on the pitch as a substitute — and the striker fired past Hansen from 15 yards out.

Aarhus came out after the break knowing they now required two goals to take the tie to extra-time.

In a bid to do just they introduced Anthony D’Alberto — a recent signing from Portuguese side Moreiense.

However, it was another substitute who was to inadvertently have an impact.

Larne defender Josh Robinson was only on the park for a minute when the referee adjudged him to have handled inside the area on 76 minutes.

Patrick Olsen stepped up to level the score on the night, sending Ferguson the wrong way from the resulting penalty.

Aarhus’ tails were clearly up after this, with Albert Gronbaek having two free-kicks bravely blocked in the space of as many minutes.

Despite a late onslaught from the home, which including sending forward goalkeeper Hansen forward, Larne bravely held on for the draw which booked next week’s trip to Porto.

AGF Aarhus: Hansen, Munksgaard (D’Alberto 61), Tingager (Kristensen 87), Bisseck, Lund (Gerbach 69), Poulsen, Olsen, Links, Thorsteinsson, Kurminowski (Ammitzboll 69), Gronbaek

Unused subs: Gadegaard, Hausner, Juelsgard , Duncan, Tengstedt, Jevtovic

Larne: Ferguson, Cosgrove (Robinson 70), Watson, Bolger, Hughes, Jarvis, Sule (Mitchell 86), Herron, Randall (Kelly 86), Lynch (Hale 41), McDaid

Unused subs: Argyrides, Scott, Lusty

Referee: Volen Chinkov (Bulgaria)

Man of the match: Albert Watson (Larne)

Match rating: 7/10


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