Irish League side Linfield defeated Greek opponents Xanthi in a hard-fought Europa League Second Qualifying Round clash, with Aaron Burns scoring the only goal of the game
The match took a while to settle down with both sides committing needless fouls in the early stages. Xanthi had the first real opportunity, but could not capitalise on a series of corners as Linfield held firm at the back. The visitors took the lead on 25 minutes when Aaron Burns was allowed to penetrate the defence and put the ball beyond Spanish goalkeeper Chema.
The hosts had a chance on the stroke of half time to level the tie, but Theodoros Vasilakakis missed the target as Linfield went in ahead at the break. Xanthi showed more aggression after the interval, and drew a number of blocks from the Blues defence. Goalkeeper Jonathan Tuffey was called into action just after the hour mark, and did well to deny Ivorian midfielder Serge Die.
Xanthi's search for an equaliser saw Panagiotis Triadis go close with a free-kick, and minutes later substitute Antonis Ranos wasted a great opportunity to level the tie. At the other end Michael Carvill forced Chema into a good save from a quick counter-attack. Linfield began to defend deeper to protect their lead, with Tuffey called into action once again to deny Nicolas Marin.
Linfield held on well to prevent Xanthi from grabbing an equaliser, and now hold the advantage ahead of the second leg at Winsdor Park on Thursday, July 25.