Jordan Stewart (89)

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SP La Fiorita

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Jordan Stewart celebrates grabbing Linfield's 89th minute winner (Picture: William Cherry/PressEye.com)

STEWART COMES OFF BENCH TO GIVE BLUES THE ADVANTAGE

A Jordan Stewart goal was enough to secure victory for Linfield over visitors La Fiorita from San Marino in this Champions League First Qualifying Round, First Leg clash at Windsor Park.

It goes the Blues a crucial advantage going into the return next Tuesday in Serravalle.

Stewart, on his competitive debut for the club, struck on 89 minutes after collecting the ball from fellow substitute Cameron Stewart before turning one way and then another to slot the ball past 'keeper Gianluca Vivan.

Linfield had started brightly, creating early openings courtesy of Niall Quinn, Paul Smyth and Mark Stafford albeit without bearing fruit.

However, the visitors almost seized the lead before the break when Jose Hirsch connected with Andrea Matini's cross to the back post only for his touch to go just inches wide.

Linfield might have opened the scoring just after the hour mark when Vivan conceded a penalty following a challenge on Stephen Lowry and then pushed Aaron Burns' spot-kick around an upright.

David Healy's side upped the ante after that, with Smyth seeing an effort turned away before a Lowry attempt was blocked.

But that Stewart goal right at the end of normal time eventually tilted the tie in Linfield's favour.

Linfield: Carroll, Haughey, Stafford, M. Clarke, Casement, Smyth, Mulgrew, Lowry, Quinn, Burns, Waterworth subs Deane (not used), C. Stewart (replaced Burns 75), J. Stewart (replaced Quinn 60), Millar (not used), Garrett (not used), Mitchell (not used), R. Clarke (not used)

La Fiorita: Vivan, Matini, Brighi, Di Maio, Olivi, Miglietta, Olcese, Rinaldi, Tommasi, Gasperoni, Hirsch subs Lunadei (replaced Miglietta 90), Pancotti, Cangini, Colonna, Zafferani (replaced Hirsch 80), Michelotti, Guidi (replaced Olcese 90+2)

Referee: Duje Strukan

Attendance: 2839

Tags:  Linfield