Crusaders crash out of Europa League after Latvians hit last-gasp goal
An injury-time goal saw Crusaders' Europa League campaign end in heartbreak as they were beaten 2-0 by FK Liepaja in Latvia.
Arturs Karasausks' goal four minutes into added time sent the Latvians through on away goals after Giorgi Eristavi had given the home side the lead from the penalty spot on 33 minutes.
Belfast side the Crues held a two-goal advantage going into the game, having secured a 3-1 victory in the first leg at Seaview last week.
Liepaja dominated the opening half with a string of good chances before being awarded a penalty following Howard Beverland's challenge on Karasausks.
Eristavi dispatched the spot kick past goalkeeper Brian Jensen, who was making only his second appearance for his new club.
Jensen was forced into action on several occasions as the Belfast side were unable to register an attempt in the first 45 minutes.
Crusaders did create opportunities after the break as Paul Heatley and Jordan Owens tested Valentins Ralkevics in the Liepaja goal.
Chances came and went for Matthew Snoddy and Gavin Whyte as the Crues failed to find an away goal that surely would have ended the tie.
Having scored the telling away goal at Seaview a week ago, it was Karasausks who was again the hero for the Latvians as his injury-time winner sent his side through to the second qualifying round.
Liepaja will now face Lithuanian side Suduva as Crusaders' focus turn to the impending start of the new Irish Premiership season.
- 4Sady Gueye
- 33KeitaBooked at 52mins
- 86TomicSubstituted forGrebisat 71'minutes
- 7HmizsSubstituted forAfanasjevsat 61'minutesBooked at 69mins
- 9KurtissSubstituted forKigursat 67'minutes
- 11KarasausksBooked at 90mins
- 8WardBooked at 51mins
- 12CaddellSubstituted forForsytheat 59'minutesBooked at 80mins
- 19SnoddyBooked at 72mins
- 22HeatleyBooked at 77mins
- 10CarvillBooked at 11minsSubstituted forWhyteat 45'minutes
- Suren Baliyan