Europa League: Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter proud of players despite 5-1 defeat

Crusaders Ludogorets
Crusaders were defeated by Ludogorets in their Champions League qualifier earlier in July

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter believes his players performed admirably despite their 5-1 loss to Olimpija Ljubljana on Thursday.

Jordan Forsythe scored the Crues' only goal as they were soundly beaten in the Europa League second qualifying round first leg in Slovenia.

The hosts scored four second half goals to put them in pole position to progress from the tie.

The sides will meet again in the second leg at Seaview on 2 August.

Declan Caddell missed a fantastic opportunity to equalise after Kingsley Boateng had put Ljubljana in front, while David Cushley almost scored with a speculative long-range effort.

"The result is not reflective of how we performed," said Baxter.

"We created some great chances to score and their keeper made a couple of stunning saves."

The Slovenians scored three times in the last 30 minutes to take control of the tie.

In their Champions League qualifier earlier this month, Crusaders conceded four goals in the last half hour against Ludogorets.

"When you're playing opposition of this standard it is the last 15 minutes where they can hurt you and it has happened again," Baxter said.

The Irish League champions begin their title defence at home to Ards on 6 August.

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