Conor McMenamin celebrates bagging Cliftonville's fifth goal (©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton)
Tuesday, 07 May 2019
Cliftonville came back from two goals down to defeat Coleraine at Solitude and secure a place in Saturday's Europa League play-off final.
The eventful outcome was unfortunate for Coleraine's James McLaughlin who bagged a hat-trick yet still ended up on the wrong side of the scoreline.
He opened the scoring after nine minutes after heading in off the underside of the bar following Jamie Glackin's cross from the left.
Then, just short of the half-hour mark, he doubled Coleraine's lead with his second header, a powerful nod into the bottom corner after Adam Mullan had floated the ball over to the back post.
Joe Gormley pulled a goal back for Cliftonville six minutes later with a flicked finish over Chris Johns from Ryan Curran's pass.
Gormley might have levelled early in the second half but couldn't keep his shot on target from just inside the area. Conor McMenamin then came close with a volley wide before Jamie Harney nodded over as Cliftonville stepped up a gear.
However, McLaughlin seemed to put the game to bed on 72 minutes with an absolutely superb overhead kick when the ball fell perfectly for him inside the area.
Yet Cliftonville weren't finished, reducing the deficit again barely four minutes after that through Conor McMenamin's finish after Gormley played the ball across.
As the game slipped into stoppage time the visiting fans must surely have thought the Bannsiders had done enough but, right at the end, Ryan Curran was fouled inside the box after Johns had done well to deny McMenamin prompting referee Steven Gregg to point to the spot and, after composing himself, Curran duly stepped up to score and ensure an extra 30 minutes of play.
Buoyed by this Cliftonville then moved in front for the first time just two minutes into extra-time, squeezing a right foot shot past Johns into the bottom corner.
And the Reds made sure on 111 minutes, despite Coleraine pressure, with McMenamin's second of the night on the counter attack to round Johns and tuck the ball away.
Paddy McLaughlin's side host Glentoran in Saturday's final, kick-off 5:30pm.
Cliftonville: Brush, Ives, Breen, Grace, Harney, C. Curran, R. Curran, R. Donnelly, A. Harkin, Gormley, McMenamin subs Neeson, McGovern, Garrett, Bagnall, Maguire, Rocks, Gorman
Coleraine: Johns, Mullan, Douglas, McLaughlin, Carson, Crown, O'Donnell, McGonigle, Canning, B. Doherty, Glackin subs M. Doherty, E. Bradley, McConaghie, Parkhill, Burke, Shiels, King
Referee: Steven Gregg
|Ryan Curran||090 +7p|