Cliftonville scored two goals in a European match for the first time in the Club's history to secure progress to the Second Qualifying Round of the Europa League at the expense of Differdange. Davy McDaid opened the scoring with just 75 seconds on the clock at Solitude this evening and, after the visitors had defender Tom Siebenaler sent off, Jay Donnelly doubled the advantage to ensure there would be no nervy finish as the Reds held on for a comfortable win. Boss Gerard Lyttle made two changes to the side which had secured a dramatic 1-1 draw in Luxembourg last week with Tomas Cosgrove and McDaid stepping in for James Knowles and Daniel Hughes - and McDaid repaid that decision almost instantly; latching onto Jay Donnelly's flicked header and showing considerable strength to work his way past two defenders before confidently slotting past goalkeeper Julien Weber. Jay Donnelly then sent a volley over the bar following a corner delivery from namesake Martin before Jason McGuinness was off target with a headed attempt. Jason Mooney's acrobatic save from Omar Er Rafik maintained Cliftonville's advantage, with the first-half ending on a controversial note when Hungarian referee Ferenc Karako ruled out a Chris Curran strike after judging that Jude Winchester had impeded Weber. Dejvid Sinani should have levelled for Differdange shortly after the interval but, following a lightning-quick breakaway spearheaded by Jordan Yeye, he dragged his shot across the face of goal and inches wide of the post. That miss would prove telling because, on 57 minutes, Siebenaler's 'last man' foul on Jay Donnelly earned the defender a straight red card to heighten his side's task but, despite their numerical disadvantage, the visitors continued to probe in search of the goal they needed but neither Yeye nor Er Rafik could find the net from decent opportunities. Cliftonville knocked the stuffing out of Differdange with a quarter of an hour remaining when Chris Curran showed greater hunger to win the ball than a brace of visiting defenders and teed up the perfect cross for the in-rushing Jay Donnelly to convert. It was almost 3-0 soon later when, upon receiving the ball immediately after his introduction from the bench, Hughes set off on a sensational run that saw him weave his way past a host of challenges only for Weber to deny the striker a memorable goal that would have put the seal on this historic success as Cliftonville deservedly negotiated a route to the Second Qualifying Round of the Europa League.
Reds are two hot to handle
Cliftonville 2-0 Differdange [3-1 on aggregate]
Davy McDaid celebrates his early strike; Levi Ives tussles for possession with Gauthier Caron and (right) James Knowles rushes to congratulate Jay Donnelly as the Reds go 2-0 up
12. 2. 8. 10. 14. 20. 22.
Peter Burke Jaimie McGovern James Knowles Stephen Garrett Daniel Hughes Martin Murray Ross Lavery
1. 3. 4. 6. 7. 9. 11. 17. 18. 21. 23.
Jason Mooney Levi Ives Caoimhin Bonner Jason McGuinness Chris Curran Davy McDaid Martin Donnelly Ryan Catney Jude Winchester Jay Donnelly Tomas Cosgrove
Date Thursday, July 7, 2016
Competition Europa League 1st Qualifying Round, Second Leg