Linfield FC manager David Jeffrey enthused that "0-0 is a tremendous result for us" after watching the Belfast side hold UEFA Champions League second qualifying round visitors Rosenborg BK at Windsor Park.
The Belfast club have not made it through a round of European competition since the 2005/06 UEFA Cup, in itself their first such success in over a decade. But against the Norwegian league leaders, a superb display by Linfield keeper Alan Blayney as well as a fine goal-line clearance from captain Noel Bailie in the dying minutes, ensured the Northern Irish titleholders go to Trondheim next Wednesday with real hope.
"You've got to put it into context: we're primarily a part-time club and though we've been very successful here in our own country when you come up against the likes of Rosenborg it's a different kettle of fish," said Jeffrey. "Their coach said that we were negative but I don't agree.
We set up a system where we'd be difficult to break down but could also get forward; we certainly didn't just sit back and invite pressure."
Jeffrey's side went closest to scoring via a first-half run and chip from Robert Garrett and a half-volley from Brian McCaul just after the interval. "That trio of Robert Garrett, Damien Curran and Jamie Mulgrew were outstanding in midfield, while Philip Lowry and Brian McCaul also put in tremendous shifts out wide," the manager added.
Lone striker Peter Thompson, another who grafted tirelessly throughout, said: "We knew before the game that it was going to be tough as Rosenborg have a history of qualifying for the Champions League and reaching the group stages.
I wouldn't want to play by myself up front every week, but Europe's different and you have to put the team first. It gives us an extra man in midfield and that's what you need against top-quality sides like this.
"We have to play not necessarily to our strengths, but in a way that'll give us the best possible chance of a positive result," continued Thompson. His manager, though, had the final word. "We'd worked very hard on what all the players had to do individually and they all did their job today," Jeffrey said. "I'm just going to enjoy tonight and then look forward to the challenge of next week's game."
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