Cliftonville v Debrecen
- FT 90
- HT 0-0
Cliftonville kept their Champions League second qualifying round tie against Hungarian club Debrecen alive by earning a goalless draw in Tuesday's first leg at Solitude.
The Reds had two great early chances with Debrecen keeper Nehad Novakovic denying Chris Curran and Joe Gormley.
Debrecen bossed possession during the remainder of the first half but the Reds defence refused to buckle.
Curran missed a second-half chance as Debrecen also went close several times.
Debrecen, who clinched their seventh domestic title in 10 years in May, paraded several Hungarian internationals including former Middlesbrough defender Jozsef Varga.
However, the home side made the brighter start as Novakovic made great saves to deny the lively Curran on 12 minutes and Gormley's close-range header a minute later.
Cliftonville's recent European record
- 2013-14: Lost 5-0 on aggregate against Celtic in Champions League qualifier
- 2012-13: Lost 4-1 on aggregate against Kalmar in Europa League qualifier
- 2011-12: Beaten 2-1 on aggregate by TNS in Europa League qualifier
As Debrecen settled, Reds keeper Conor Devlin reacted smartly to save headed efforts from Alexsandar Jovanovic and Adam Bodi before Varga nodded just over on 30 minutes.
The Hungarian champions continued to dominate possession after the break and twice-capped Senegal international Ibrahima Sidibe struck the underside of the crossbar with a fierce drive on 51 minutes.
Debrecen had a penalty claim turned down five minutes later after the ball appeared to strike the hand of Reds defender Johnny Flynn.
As the visitors continued to press, French striker L'Imam Seydi fired over on 61 minutes and then struck another chance straight at Devlin a minute later.
But despite all Debrecen's possession, probably the best chance of the night fell to Reds winger Curran on 79 minutes as he fired straight at Novakovic when he had time to pick his spot from 12 yards.
Devlin completed his impressive night for the Reds by denying Selim Bouadla's curling effort in injury-time before Seydi blasted over from close range right at the death.
Debrecen will be strong favourites going into next Tuesday's return leg in Hungary but Tommy Breslin's players will retain hope that an away goal could be enough for them to record a shock victory in the tie.
Cliftonville: Devlin, McGovern, Ronan Scannell, Flynn, Seydak (McMullan 83), Cosgrove, Johnston, Curran, Martin Donnelly (Garrett 63), Catney, Gormley (Murray 90).
Subs not used: Brown, Aaron Smyth, Winchester, Caldwell.
Debrecen: Novakovic, Lazar, Meszaros, Mate, Korhut, Jovanovic (Zsidai 86), Bouadla, Bodi (Mihelic 79), Varga, Sidibe, Tisza (Seydi 46).
Subs not used: Poleksic, Damahou, Morozov, Brkovic.
Referee: Artur Soraes Dias (Portugal).