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Sunded out

Haugesund 5-1 Cliftonville [6-1 on aggregate]

Cliftonville exited the Europa League on a chastening night in Norway.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, the Reds fell behind early on when Kristopher Velde curled in a delightful opener but levelled on the night when Conor McMenamin slammed home after good work from Joe Gormley.

Before half-time, however, the hosts netted a further two goals – a Niklas Sandberg header and disputed finish from Ibrahima Kone – and began the second period by powering home a fourth through Bruno Leite.

An eye-catching fifth from the in-form Velde would duly follow as Haugesund sealed the scoring en route to a Second Qualifying Round encounter with Sturm Graz.

Things might have been different had Rory Donnelly’s second-minute free-kick crept the right side of the post but, soon after that effort had whistled just wide, the ball was in the net at the other end when Velde’s incredible curling strike clipped the crossbar en route past goalkeeper Richard Brush.

The Reds responded well, however, and reduced the aggregate arrears on 17 minutes courtesy of McMenamin’s close-range finish after Gormley had picked out the midfielder’s run.

Joe Gorman’s header from a corner kick threatened to put the visitors in front before Anthony Ikedi nodded against the woodwork as Haugesund went in search of the goals that would kill off the challenge of a Cliftonville side that came agonisingly close to finding the net when Gormley worked some space for himself inside the box.

They achieved their target with two efforts just before half-time; a looping Sandberg header making it 2-1 on the night before Kone’s shot following a goalmouth scramble was adjudged to have crossed the line by the officials.

The second-half got off to a poor start with Leite heading in to make it 4-1 on the night ahead of Valde’s sensational finish extending the hosts’ lead further.

Brush saved well from Eric Ndayisenga and Kevin Martin Krygård, with a Donnelly volley at the other end of the park proving the most the Reds were able to muster after the interval.

Cliftonville: Brush, McDermott, Ives, Breen, C Curran, R Donnelly, Bagnall, Doherty, Gormley, McMenamin, Gorman. Subs: Dunne, Harney, Harkin, R Curran (for Bagnall), Foster, Wilson (for Doherty), Maguire (for Gormley).