Europa League play-off final: Cliftonville score twice in extra-time to beat Glentoran 2-0
Extra-time goals from Joe Gormley and Conor McMenamin booked Cliftonville's place in next season's Europa League as the Reds defeated Glentoran in the play-off final for the second consecutive season.
Following a tense 90 minutes, Gormley opened the scoring after latching onto Aaron Harkin's long ball.
McMenamin raced through to seal the victory just two minutes from the end.
For Cliftonville, the victory seals a European place worth 220,000 euros.
The defeat was Glentoran's first since manager Mick McDermott took over at the Oval in March.
After the midweek semi-finals produced 14 goals, the decider at Solitude was a more conservative affair in which goalmouth action was at a premium.
However it was Gormley, whose late goal decided the same fixture last season, who provided the game's crucial moment and consigned Glentoran to a fourth straight season without European football.
Cliftonville's firepower comes to the fore
Paddy McLaughlin's side were just minutes away from exiting at the semi-final stage against Coleraine last Tuesday, but converted an injury-time penalty in order to send the game to extra-time.
In the semi-final and the final, Cliftonville's dangerous forward line showed their class in the 30 additional minutes to drag their side over the line.
At the end of the opening extra period Gormley raced onto Harkin's high ball over the top, lifted it over the onrushing Dwayne Nelson before slotting home to lift the home fans off their seats.
With Glentoran forced to push forward in search of an equaliser, McMenamin was put through and sent a composed finish beyond Nelson to ensure the win for the Reds.
The Glens, who topped the bottom half of the Irish Premiership having finished the season strongly under McDermott, came closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening half when Robbie McDaid blazed over having dispossessed Jamie Harney in the box.
Harney got in the way of Darren Murray's overhead kick in the second period as the visitors struggled to maintain any meaningful pressure on Brian Neeson's goal.
The Reds' keeper might have felt fortunate that John Herron headed over the bar six minutes into extra-time, after Neeson had unsuccessfully tried to punch the ball clear.
Despite the defeat, Glentoran will hope that their largely positive end to the season will be a sign of things to come under McDermott.
The club's shareholders are set to discuss a potential takeover at an EGM on Thursday.
Cliftonville finished the season in fifth after an inconsistent campaign, but found more rhythm after McLaughlin arrived at Solitude in February.
The Reds can now look forward to another European tie in north Belfast, where they are still undefeated under their new boss.