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AEL leave Linfield with mountain to climb

AEL Limassol 3-0 LinfieldFC
The Northern Irish champions now have a mountain to climb to reach the third qualifying round after falling to defeat in Cyprus.

AEL are hoping to be the latest Cypriot side into the group stage
AEL are hoping to be the latest Cypriot side into the group stage ©Sportsfile

AEL Limassol's bid to be the latest Cypriot side to make the UEFA Champions League group stage is off to a good start after a comfortable second qualifying round first-leg defeat of Linfield FC.

The home team dominated from start to finish on a hot and humid night in Limassol, and scored three goals without reply through Vouho, Edwin Ouon and Chris Dickson. Linfield have a lot of work to do to turn the tie in Belfast next Wednesday.

It took 16 minutes for AEL to take the lead. Dickson released his strike partner Vouho and the Guinean coolly rounded onrushing keeper Alan Blayney and slotted into an empty net. Dickson then passed up a golden chance of his own before AEL doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark, Ouon rising above the Linfield defence to head in a Gilberto corner.

Any hopes Linfield harboured of repairing the situation were dealt a blow nine minutes after the restart, when Gilberto found the head of Dickson with another excellent delivery. Two minutes later Robert Garrett sent a shot narrowly past a post in Linfield's first and only real chance.

AEL coasted for the remainder, although Marcos Airosa missed a fine chance to rub salt into the Linfield wound four minutes from the end, shooting over from a promising position.