Shayne Lavery and Maksim Medvedev (©INPHO/Brian Little)

EUROPA LEAGUE EXIT HEARTACHE FOR LINFIELD

Linfield's Europa League adventures are over following a narrow defeat to Azerbaijani champions Qarabag FK in Baku. The Blues lost 2-1 on the night, an aggregate score of 4-4, but exited the competition on away goals.

Qarabaq went into the game trailing by one goal from last week's first leg at Windsor Park, seeking an early goal to seize the overall advantage in the tie ... and they duly got it after just six minutes when Jaime Romero sent a first time finish past Rohan Ferguson after getting on the end of Magaye Gueye's ball over the top of the defence.

Linfield crafted an encouraging response not long after when Niall Quinn cut the ball back for Bastien Héry but his effort was comfortably saved by Qarabag keeper Vagner.

Qarabag were content to hold onto what they had, not really testing Linfield in pursuit of the second goal that would surely have killed the tie off.

Michel did test Ferguson with a long range effort before the half-hour mark while, a little later, Romero was denied by Ferguson after he raced off his line to deal with another threat.

Abdellah Zoubir had a go from distance as the game approached the hour mark but, again, Ferguson made the save while, moments after that, Ailton headed just wide from a corner.

Qarabaq continued to step up the pressure, coming closer still on 62 minutes through Rasad Sadiqov's strike against an upright from a free-kick before Zoubir produced another Ferguson save.

Jimmy Callacher was then called into action to block two efforts in quick succession but, with just two minutes left, Zoubir finally grabbed Qarabag's second goal when he found himself in space to take the ball around Ferguson and into the net.

But, rather than let their heads drop, Linfield bounced back in the third minute of stoppage time courtesy of Shayne Lavery's volley from Jordan Stewart's cross to level the tie on aggregate.

Unfortunately, there was insufficient time left to give the Blues any realistic chance of scoring again but it was a fantastic effort on the night and a fitting end to a European run to remember for David Healy's side.

Qarabag FK: Vagner, Ailton, Mammadov, Medvedev, Michel, Jaime Romero, Emreli, Sadiqov, Zoubir, Almeyda, Gueye subs Mehemmedeliyev, Qarayev, Slavchev, Abdullayev, Dani Quintana, Rherras, Huseynov

Linfield: Ferguson, Stafford, Callacher, Héry, Cooper, Lavery, Clarke, Fallon, Mulgrew, Quinn, Casement subs Waterworth, Stewart, Millar, Kearns, McGivern, Mitchell, Moore

Tags:  Linfield