HJK Helsinki players celebrate Tuomas Ollila's first-half strike
HJK Helsinki players celebrate Tuomas Ollila’s first-half strike

Larne suffered an agonising Champions League exit to HJK Helsinki as they lost 3-2 on aggregate after extra time following a dramatic draw at Solitude.

Tuomas Ollila’s 26th-minute strike gave HJK a 1-0 lead in the second leg but a second-half Lee Bonis penalty and Joe Thomson’s 87th-minute goal saw Larne level the tie on aggregate.

Roope Riski had the final say with the winner six minutes into extra time.

The impressive hosts had dominated the game for large spells.

Larne were forced to face the Finnish champions at the Solitude home of fellow Irish Premiership club Cliftonville for the second instalment of their first-round qualifier as their own pitch at Inver Park failed to pass a Fifa test.

The east Antrim side made light of being unable to play in their hometown as they set out to attack their opponents from the offset, backed by a large and vocal support.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg courtesy of a second-minute penalty by Bojan Radulovic, the Irish League champions created a number of good scoring opportunities.

Leroy Millar’s delivery from the left was met at the near post by Andy Ryan, but his header flew wide of the post and soon after the same player failed to make contact just a few yards out from goal.

The visitors took the lead in the 26th minute when full-back Ollila fired low left-footed into the bottom corner past Rohan Ferguson as Larne appealed in vain for a foul in the build-up.

Larne continued to go forward however and Millar was at the centre of the action again on the stroke of half-time when he drilled a left-foot drive just wide.

Helsinki, who sacked manager Toni Koskela last week and appointed his assistant Toni Korkeakunnas, were forced to soak up further pressure after the restart.

Larne skipper Tomas Cosgrove’s cross to the back post found fellow wing-back Micheal Glynn but he rifled his volley inches over.

Larne goalscorer Lee Bonis receives congratulations from Leroy Millar
Larne goalscorer Lee Bonis receives congratulations from Leroy Millar

The Irish League champions continued to produce flowing, expansive football and 20 minutes into the second period found themselves level on the night through striker Bonis’s penalty.

Ryan provided the cross from which Bonis’s header was tipped over the bar by HJK goalkeeper Jesse Ost but the referee consulted the video assistant referee which indicated the ball had struck the hand of Jukka Raitala.

Bonis stepped up to confidently send Ost the wrong way with his spot-kick.

Tiernan Lynch’s side, playing their first ever Champions League tie, continued to boss possession and earned just reward for their superiority with their late strike which took the game into an additional 30 minutes.

The impressive Ryan was again the provider with a pinpoint cross from the left, which Helsinki were unable to clear.

Substitute Thomson got on the end of it and shot right-footed into the bottom corner, with Miro Tenho merely helping it over the line with his head.

That dramatic late intervention had Solitude rocking but the Finns were to have the final say in extra time when Pyri Soiri crossed from the right side of the area and Riski looking to have squeezed the ball home at the back post, although Shaun Want may have got the final touch.

HJK will face Norwegian side Molde in the second qualifying round of the Champions League, with Larne playing Ballkani in the Europa Conference League second qualifying round, with the first leg in Kosovo next Thursday.



Formation 5-3-2

  • 1Ferguson
  • 23Cosgrove
  • 2WantBooked at 110mins
  • 18BolgerSubstituted forFarquharat 34′minutes
  • 4DonnellyBooked at 47mins
  • 22GlynnSubstituted forWestendorfat 76′minutes
  • 25SloanSubstituted forThomsonat 76′minutes
  • 21Millar
  • 16GordonSubstituted forMaguireat 98′minutes
  • 29RyanSubstituted forO’Neillat 89′minutes
  • 10BonisBooked at 73mins


  • 3Omar
  • 5Farquhar
  • 6Thomson
  • 7Kearns
  • 9O’Neill
  • 17Westendorf
  • 20Maguire
  • 26Smith
  • 28Dowling

HJK Helsinki

Formation 4-3-3

  • 25IlievSubstituted forÖstat 45′minutes
  • 22RaitalaBooked at 64mins
  • 4Toivio
  • 15TenhoBooked at 74mins
  • 2OllilaBooked at 79mins
  • 24KanellópoulosSubstituted forMöllerat 90′minutes
  • 10Lingman
  • 18KeskinenSubstituted forRiskiat 71′minutes
  • 23SoiriSubstituted forKouassivi-Benissanat 119′minutes
  • 9RadulovicBooked at 107mins
  • 29OlusanyaSubstituted forTanakaat 56′minutes


  • 1Öst
  • 11Riski
  • 27Kouassivi-Benissan
  • 37Tanaka
  • 52Toivonen
  • 59Möller
  • 97Boamah

Aristotelis Diamantopoulos

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