Last night Glenavon hosted Molde FK in the first-leg of their Europa League first round qualifier at Mourneview Park.
Glenavon had the first chance of the game from a free kick by Andrew Hall but it was easily blocked by Andreas Linde. Molde started off strong and missed two fantastic opportunities to go ahead, the first in the 11th minute when Erling Braut Haland cleverly manoeuvred the ball to Erik Hestad in the box however the strike went wide of the goal. Hestad had another opportunity soon after but it didn’t cause any problem for Glenavon keeper Jonny Tuffey.
The visitors took the lead after thirty-six minutes, when Strand sent the ball into the box for Erik Hestad who struck the ball into the net via the post. This spurred Glenavon to respond with vigour and just a minute later Andy Hall crossed to Rhys Marshall, who scored the equaliser courtesy of an unwise decision by goalkeeper Linde to bat the ball away. The score was even going into the break and this gave Glenavon a lot of confidence going into the second half. However, Glenavon were lucky not to concede when a defensive mistake by Andrew Doyle nearly led to a goal by Aursnes for the visitors in the opening minutes.
Glenavon clinched a 2nd goal to go ahead of the visitors in the 59th minute when Marshall launched a swift counter attack, racing up the field beating two players to launch the ball past Molde’s keeper Linde. Molde kept on pushing for the equaliser and in the 63rd minute Marshall cleared a shot from Hestad off the line. Glenavon didn’t rest on their laurels and furiously battled for each ball. In the 80th minute, Niall Grace of Glenavon made a fantastic last-minute tackle on Haugen who was heading straight on target for the equaliser. It looked dangerous for Glenavon when Andrew Doyle took down Daniel Chima and Molde were awarded a penalty with just five minutes left of normal time. Luckily for Gary Hamilton’s side, Aursnes attempt went wide of the goal.
In the dying minutes of the game and with everything to fight for, Glenavon’s Grace pulled off two magnificent blocks in the box to impede the Norwegians from levelling the score. The game ended 2-1 to Glenavon with the crowd at Mourneview going wild.
Glenavon travel to Norway next week for the away leg of this first round qualification for Europa League.