After a penalty victory in the Champions League First Qualifying Round against Faroese minnows B36 Torshavn, Irish League winners Linfield came up against much tougher opposition in the Second Qualifying Round, going down by two goals away to AEL Limassol.
In 36 degree heat in Cyprus, the Blues were immediately on the back foot, with the ball in their net after just four minutes. Rwandan international defender Edwin Ouon got on the end of a free-kick, but was ruled out for offside. Robert Garrett went close with a rare chance for the visitors, before Ivorian striker Djilli Vuoho rounded Alan Blayney to give the Cypriots a deserved lead after a quarter of an hour.
Edwin Ouon netted from another set-piece on 30 minutes to get his name on the scoresheet on the second time of asking. The defender was unmarked from a corner and headed home to make it 2-0. The Northern Irish side found it difficult in the heat, and struggled to get into the game, especially after the interval with players tiring.
Limassol made it three in the 54th minute through Ghanaian striker Chris Dickson, who had been making Blayney work hard all game. The London-born former Charlton Athletic forward had set up Vuoho for the opener, and continued to search for goals as the game wound down. Rui Miguel missed a great chance for AEL at the end, and the game finished 3-0 to the Cypriots.
Linfield host AEL Limassol in the second leg at Windsor Park on Wednesday, July 25th.