Published Wednesday, 18 July 2012
David Jeffrey's men lost out against AEL Limassol. (© Pacemaker)
AEL skipper Edwin Ouon had a goal disallowed after five minutes after his header was ruled offside during Wednesday's match against the Cypriot side.
Patrick Vouho gave the hosts a 16th-minute lead before Ouon doubled their advantage after 29 minutes to go 2-0 at half time.
Former Charlton striker Chris Dickson sealed the win nine minutes into the second half.
Blues manager David Jeffrey praised his side after describing the encounter as "probably the hardest european contest that I have had during my managerial career".
"They were incredibly, incredibly good," he said of AEL Limassol.
"They moved the ball very, very quickly. We set up to try and contain them. The simple quickness of their play and their athleticism were just terrific," he told Linfield's website.
"We had to reorganise play tactically even though the system we set up was to frustrate them but they were just cutting through. We had a team of heroes on the night.
"They worked so very hard. I've got to say in the 54th minute when the third goal went in I feared the worst. The three goals came from set pieces. I'm proud of the players. I was hoping for respectability and certainly it's no disgrace to lose to such a top quality side."
The return leg will take place next Wednesday at Windsor Park in Belfast.