AEL Limassol FC's three-goal triumph in last week's UEFA Champions League second qualifying round first leg against Linfield FC proved to be the difference between the sides after a goalless draw in Belfast.
Trailing 3-0, Linfield needed to make a fast start, yet they were unable to do so. Rui Miguel could have extended the visitors' aggregate lead on 14 minutes but he fired wide with only goalkeeper Alan Blayney to beat.
Ryan Henderson came close to giving Linfield some hope but his 21st-minute header was well saved by Matias Degra. In fact, it was the Cypriot champions who pushed forward at the end of the first half, Edmar threatening two minutes before the break.
Attempting to emulate APOEL FC's run to the quarter-finals last season, AEL continued to dominate in the second half but could not find a way past Blayney. Substitute Daryl Fordyce was denied a consolation for Linfield late on and although AEL failed to clinch their first victory on the road in UEFA competition, they progress to the next round and a tie against FK Partizan.
"Linfield had nothing to lose, so we knew it would be a difficult game," said AEL coach Charalampos Christodoulou. "We created chances and we did what we came here to do. Our aim was to progress to the next round and now we can look forward to two games against Partizan. We don't have a lot of experience in Europe, but we want to go as far as we can in this competition."
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