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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

Linfield stun Qarabag to take slender lead into Europa League second leg

The Irish Premiership side have given themselves a real chance of reaching the group stages.

Mark Stafford scored Linfield's opening goal.
Mark Stafford scored Linfield's opening goal.
Image: Brian Little/INPHO

WINDSOR PARK WAS rocking tonight as Linfield stunned FK Qarabag — Dundalk’s Champions League conquerors — to take a slender 3-2 advantage into next week’s Europa League play-off second leg. 

Faycal Rherras’ early goal had put the visitors ahead but a Shayne Lavery brace and Mark Stafford’s first-half strike turned the tie on its head as Linfield recorded one of their great European results.

Lavery’s outstanding solo goal on 75 minutes had put the Irish Premiership side in control of the tie, but Magaye Gueye’s injury-time penalty leaves it delicately poised ahead of the return leg in Azerbaijan next Thursday.

Linfield are aiming to become the first Irish Premiership club to qualify for the Europa League group stages and they have given themselves a fighting chance.  

Elsewhere, Wolves moved a step closer to reaching the group stages by winning 3-2 at Torino in the first leg of their play-off round clash.

Bremer’s own goal put Nuno Espirito Santo’s side in front before half-time at the Olimpico Grande Torino on Thursday with Diogo Jota extending their advantage after the break.

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Lorenzo De Silvestri’s header cut the deficit but Raul Jimenez struck in the 72nd minute to earn Wolves a potentially crucial third away goal, though Andrea Belotti’s late penalty leaves the tie more balanced. 

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