Cliftonville FC manager Eddie Patterson said his players had "done the club proud" after knocking out HNK Cibalia to set up a third qualifying round tie with Bulgaria's PFC CSKA Sofia.
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Cliftonville FC manager Eddie Patterson has hailed Thursday's UEFA Europa League draw with HNK Cibalia as "one of the greatest nights" in the Belfast club's history.
The Northern Irish Premiership side drew 0-0 in Croatia to secure a 1-0 aggregate win and progress to a third qualifying round tie with PFC CSKA Sofia. Patterson praised his part-time players for holding out against Cibalia in the "blistering heat" of eastern Croatia.
"To progress in Europe after matching a team of full-time professionals in testing conditions is beyond our wildest dreams," he said. "The fact we have overcome the challenge of Cibalia to reach the next round will surprise many people, but my players deserve a lot of credit.
"They were magnificent and stuck to the task. I told them to believe in themselves going into this tie and they did that. They did themselves and the club proud. Someone told me it is one of the greatest results in the club's history. It's a great achievement."
Next up for Cliftonville are CSKA, with the first leg in Bulgaria next Tuesday. "It is a very quick turnaround for us, especially when you consider our players are part-time," said Patterson. "We will have to check how many of our squad can get time off work and so on. It won't be easy. But we'll worry about that over the weekend. We will enjoy this success first and then focus on Sofia. It will be another massive test."