Larne boss Tiernan Lynch has hailed Thursday night’s 2-1 win over Aarhus in the Europa Conference League as the “proudest moment” of his four-year reign as manager.
The Inver Reds provided one of the shocks of the second round when they overcame the Danish full-timers who finished fourth in their domestic league last season.
An early Davy McDaid strike and a Dean Jarvis header helped secure an unexpected first leg advantage to take into next week’s return game in Denmark.
Alexander Ammitzboll’s 84th minute effort, which sneaked in at the back post, was a late sucker punch, but it didn’t detract from one of Larne’s most famous wins as a club.
To put it into context, Larne were 8/1 outsiders with some bookmakers to beat an Aarhus side who have been a top-four side in Denmark for the past two campaigns.
Only Copenhagen, Brondby and Midtjylland, who drew 1-1 with Celtic in the Champions League in Glasgow on Tuesday night, finished above them last season.
“That’s probably the proudest moment I’ve had yet as manager here,” said Lynch. “We were outstanding to a man and I couldn’t be prouder of the performance.
“If truth be told, I don’t think anyone gave us a chance going into this game – apart from us.
“We wanted to make sure the tie wasn’t over after this leg and we achieved that. We have given ourselves a fighting chance.
Can Larne finish the job against Aarhus next week?
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“Yes, there’s maybe a slight disappointment in us after conceding a late goal, but we shouldn’t be disappointed because of how well we played.
“We had a quick conversation about that in the changing room after the game. This is the club’s first time in Europe, it’s a learning curve and we’ll learn from these experiences.”
Lynch had done his homework on Aarhus prior to this week’s first leg at Inver Park, but admits it was still very much a step into the unknown against the Danish full-timers.
Larne Manager Tiernan Lynch in the dugout on Thursday
“We went into the tie probably not sure what we were getting,” he said. “We watched them draw with Brondby at the weekend and we knew their budget and so on.
“To come out of the game slightly disappointed that we conceded and secondly that we didn’t win by more is an absolutely unbelievable credit to the players.
“We got an early goal and the longer the game went on, we looked like the team with the £4.5m budget rather than them. I thought we were outstanding.”
The return leg is at the Aarhus Stadium on Thursday night.