La Fiorita 0-0 Linfield (agg 0-1): Belfast side to face Celtic

Linfield's Jordan Stewart celebrates scoring the winning goal from the first leg. Picture: PA
Linfield's Jordan Stewart celebrates scoring the winning goal from the first leg. Picture: PA
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Linfield secured a money-spinning Champions League qualifier against Celtic after battling to a goalless draw at La Fiorita to complete a 1-0 aggregate win.

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The Northern Irish champions were defending a slender advantage from the first leg at Windsor Park in Belfast, secured by a late goal from substitute Jordan Stewart on the return to his boyhood club after leaving Swindon.

The San Marino side had been seeking to secure a first European victory after 11 defeats, but were unable to find a way past David Healy’s well-organised team, who booked their place in the second qualifying round - and a date with Celtic - for the first time since 2012/13.

Veteran Linfield forward Andy Waterworth saw an early effort saved before, in the 36th minute, defender Cameron Stewart sent his close-range header over following a free-kick from Matthew Clarke.

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La Fiorita threatened just before half-time when Roberto Di Maio’s effort was saved by Roy Carroll, the former Manchester United goalkeeper.

Linfield had another chance to further their aggregate lead with 20 minutes left but substitute Aaron Burns hooked the ball wide.

La Fiorita substitute Adrian Ricchiuti saw a late effort blocked, before Waterworth knocked in Burns’ pass, but the offside flag was already up.

Linfield will now take on Scottish champions Celtic, with the first leg set for Belfast on July 14 which was moved because of safety concerns.

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