Celebrations at the final whistle last week in Tallinn (Picture: Stephen Hamilton/PressEye.com)


Crusaders continue their UEFA Champions League odyssey tonight in the south-eastern Albanian town of Korçë.

Stephen Baxter's side, fresh from knocking out FC Levadia just a week ago, face reigning Superliga champions Skënderbeu in the Second Qualifying Round, First Leg this evening, kick-off 7pm BST.

Skënderbeu have claimed the Albanian title for the past five consecutive seasons and have prepared for tonight's game with a series of friendlies against Romanian sides Botoşani and Universitatea Craiova, LASK Linz from Austria, Ukraine's Dynamo Kiev and Spartak Trnava, Linfield's Slovakian Europa League opponents on Thursday night.

Although Skënderbeu might be something of an unknown quantity, manager Baxter has had the chance to watch recordings of two recent games and, as he told the News Letter, is approaching the game with a definite plan in mind.

"Our aim is to go out there, give a good account of ourselves and come away with a positive result. We want to keep the tie alive heading into the second leg.

"We don’t want to ship goals, lose 4-0 or 5-0 and be heading back to Seaview with very little to play for.

"We don’t want to make life difficult for ourselves. A 0-0 draw or even a narrow defeat would keep us in the hunt and give us a real fighting chance in front of our own supporters.

"Let's just hope we can put in a good performance and come back with something to play for.

"We won’t go there with an inferiority complex or a mindset where we are the whipping boys.

"We'll go with a very professional attitude and a desire to come away with a positive result."

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