Express & Star

Crusaders hope to pull off shock against Wolves

Crusaders goalkeeper Sean O'Neill has reflected on the emotion of an unforgettable night at Molineux – and is embracing the challenge of trying to create a massive shock against Wolves.


Nuno Espirito Santo's team won 2-0 in last Thursday's first leg, with Ruben Vinagre netting a crucial last-minute second goal against a stubborn Crusaders defence.

O'Neill, who captained the team at Molineux, said he had never seen emotion like it in the away dressing room before on a night the club 'will never forget'.

"It was an unbelievable experience and probably my proudest moment in football leading the boys out at Molineux with 30,000 people in the stadium," O'Neill told the Belfast Telegraph.

"There were times when we were trying to give out instructions and we couldn't hear each other.

"About five minutes into the game, they got a corner and a few of our boys said to me they felt sick. I think the heat had an effect. It was so warm and everything else combined with nerves and the atmosphere all came together, but once boys got water on board and a first touch things seemed to be okay.

"The Wolves fans created a great noise on the night, but from around the 60th minute to 85th you could only hear the Crues supporters because there was a bit of tension in the air with the home crowd as their team were only 1-0 ahead.

"The Crues supporters were brilliant. It's the best I've seen and heard them at a European tie.

"After the game it was an emotional changing room. We have won and lost league titles and finals but, after the game at Molineux, it was the first time I've seen that emotion with almost everyone in the team, including the board when they came in.

"It was a huge thing for us as a club and a great, great night. It's something everyone involved with the club will never forget."

Wolves remain big favourites to progress from Thursday's return leg in Belfast but O'Neill says the clash at Seaview will be another unforgettable night.

"We've kept the second leg alive and you just never know," he said. "Seaview is a tight pitch and we'll have a go.

"If you had said we'd lose 2-0 in the first leg, we'd have taken that, but to concede so late on was disappointing. To create a massive shock we would have to score twice, which is going to be difficult, and keep them out at the other end, which will also be very tough, but we're looking forward to the challenge.

"It should be another special night for the club."