Europa League: Ballymena United make history with 2-0 aggregate European win

Ballymena's 2-0 first-leg win at the Showgrounds secured their passage
Ballymena's 2-0 first-leg win at the Showgrounds secured their passage

Ballymena United's 2-0 aggregate Europa League win over NSI Runavik ensured that they progressed through a round of a European club competition for the first time at the eighth attempt.

The Irish Premiership side drew 0-0 in the preliminary round second leg in the Faroe Islands on Thursday to follow up their 2-0 home victory last week.

Ballymena will now play Malmo of Sweden in the first qualifying round.

The Braidmen increase their European financial windfall to £410,000.

Ballymena's previous seven attempts to win a tie in European competition dated back to a European Cup Winners' Cup defeat by Belgian side SK Beveren in 1978.

Goals from Leroy Millar and Jude Winchester in the first leg at the Showgrounds last week proved decisive for David Jeffrey's side.

The visitors were under pressure for spells of the game in Toftir but a spirited rearguard action saw them through and they could well have found the net themselves on several occasions.

Tony Kane went close for the Irish League side early on at the Svangaskard Stadium as his free-kick dipped over the bar.

Paetur Hentze hit the woodwork from distance in the first half, while Pol Johannus Justinussen headed over and Klaemint Olsen also headed wide of the target.

Ballymena striker Cathair Friel saw a close range effort scrambled off the line, before Runavik went close to an opener at the other end.

Jude Winchester forced a smart save from Tordur Thomsen, then Ross Glendinning was called into action to bat a Petur Knudsen free-kick wide for a corner. Jann Benjaminsen also had a chance.

Chances aplenty after the break

With a thick fog closing in, Winchester curled the ball narrowly wide following a swift break five minutes into the second-half as David Jeffrey's side chased a precious away goal.

Striker Adam Lecky also saw an angled drive deflected into the side netting after a clever exchange of passes with Winchester inside the area.

NSI went close to an opener in the 69th minute when Knudsen was presented with a glorious opportunity 12 yards out after Glendinning punched Davidsen's cross into the air.

But with the goal at the mercy and Jim Ervin scrambling back to cover, the midfielder directed his header wide of the upright.

The towering Justinussen also headed narrowly wide from a flighted Knudsen corner for Runavik and in the 79th minute United keeper Glendinning produced a superb double save to deny Olsen and substitute Dalbud at point blank range.

Dalbud had the ball in the net from a Knudsen corner with five minutes left but referee Besfort Kasumi had already blown for a foul inside the area.

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