Just a few days ahead of Cliftonville’s return to action, our mini series of continental anniversaries takes us back to the Club’s exit from the Europa League in 2016.
For it was five years ago today that the Reds suffered a 2-0 loss in the Second Qualifying Round as AEK Larnaca completed a 5-2 aggregate success having been two down at Solitude the previous week.
Though Cliftonville’s bid to turn the tie around had got off to an encouraging start with a number of chances created in the opening exchanges, Caoimhin Bonner’s 11th minute dismissal for a high challenge on Joan Tomas only heightened the visitors’ task at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium.
Jay Donnelly, Levi Ives and debutant Chris Ramsey – introduced for Davy McDaid in the immediate aftermath of Bonner’s red card – had all gone close to opening the scoring before Vladimir Boljevic settled home nerves by finding the net on the stroke of half-time.
Three minutes after the interval, Tomas made it 2-0 on the night to seal victory for the Cypriots, who ousted Spartak Moscow in the next round before suffering Play-Off defeat to Slovan Liberec.
Cliftonville: J Mooney, McGovern, Ives, Bonner, Curran, Knowles, McDaid, Catney, Winchester, J Donnelly, Cosgrove.
Subs: Ramsey (for McDaid), Garrett (for Winchester), Hughes, M Murray (for Curran), Lavery.