By Kenny Archer at The Oval
IF Elfsborg centre-back Joakim Alexandersson made up for the loss of his defensive partner to a red card by scoring a crucial late goal to snatch victory at Northern Irish side Glentoran FC in the first leg of their UEFA Cup second qualifying round tie.
Ten men prevail
Elfsborg had the better of the scoring chances throughout, overcoming the dismissal of captain Johan Sjöberg in the 38th minute to gain a reward for their counterattacking guile three minutes from time when Alexandersson volleyed in a free-kick from the right swung over by left-winger Andreas Klarström.
The visitors signalled their intent in the third minute when the lively Hans Berggren forced a flying save from Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris. At the other end Elfsborg custodian Johan Wiland tipped over Stephen Parkhouse's dipping cross-shot.
Samuelsson strikes woodwork
Berggren nearly created a goal on 24 minutes when he teed up beautifully for central midfield player Magnus Samuelsson, but his rising right-foot shot on the run struck the angle of post and bar. Glentoran's famously-named Kevin Keegan came close himself, but side-footed over the bar after picking up the ball from Sjöberg.
Two minutes later Sjöberg was off after seemingly pushing Parkhouse in the face and being shown a straight red card. Glentoran looked to take advantage of their extra man and finished the first half strongly, Shaun Holmes and Parkhouse both missing narrowly.
Morris denies visitors
Glentoran had most of the possession after the interval, but Elfsborg continually threatened from deep. Samuel Holmén shot off target five minutes into the half, and Morris got in the way of a close-range Lars Nilsson effort. The goalkeeper then used his legs to deny Berggren, now a lone striker, after the forward cut in from the left, and Morris also saved from Klarström following a similar manouevure.
But Elfsborg, launching their sixth UEFA Cup campaign, had a late sting in their tails thanks to Alexandersson. It is they that will have the advantage for the second leg in Sweden on 26 August.