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Eu Reds: Aalborg

In between Cliftonville’s two Europa League dates with Nordsjælland, our mini series of continental anniversaries takes a timely step back to the Club’s first ever visit to Denmark.

For it was on this day in 1996 that the Reds completed their InterToto Cup obligations with a clash against Aalborg.

Having garnered a solitary point from their prior Group 1 outings against Standard Liege, Hapoel Haifa and Stuttgart, Marty Quinn’s side travelled to the Nordjyske Arena playing for pride more than anything else and were certainly giving a more than decent account of themselves despite midfielder Mark O’Neill having to assume goalkeeping duties following Dean Smyth’s dismissal.

Unfortunately for the visitors, a late flurry of Aalborg goals saw them turn a 1-0 lead into a 4-0 victory that sent the Danes to the top of the table, a position from which they were usurped courtesy of a 1-0 loss in Liege the following week.

Today also marks 11 years since another 4-0 defeat in the InterToto Cup – this time inflicted by KAA Gent of Belgium.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg of the 2007 Second Round tie, The Buffalos opened the scoring at Windsor Park through Dominic Foley – the former Ireland international who had netted both goals at Jules Ottenstadion the previous week – before Adekambi Olufade (2) and Davy De Beule completed a 6-0 aggregate success.

And, as if to further demonstrate that July 14 is far from a favourable date for the Club, today is also the second anniversary of a heartbreaking home loss to AEK Larnaca.

Ahead through Jason McGuinness early on, a little bit of history was made when Jay Donnelly – who had scored against Differdange the previous week – became the first ever Cliftonville player to net in successive European games when he made it 2-0, only for the visitors to roar back in a stunning 16 minute spell that saw Ivan Trickovski, Elias Charalambous and Joan Thomas hit the target in a 3-2 win that the Cypriots extended by a further two goals when the sides renewed Europa League rivalries seven days later.