Coleraine kick off new season in fine style

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The Independent Football

Just 38 days after the last whistle of the Champions' League final brought the 2001-02 club campaign to a close, the new European football season started yesterday in the homely surroundings of The Showgrounds in Coleraine.

Just 38 days after the last whistle of the Champions' League final brought the 2001-02 club campaign to a close, the new European football season started yesterday in the homely surroundings of The Showgrounds in Coleraine.

It was a good day for the Irish League club, Coleraine, who gained their biggest win in European competition with a 5-0 thrashing of the amateurs from Andorra, UE Sant Julia, in a first-round first-leg Intertoto Cup fixture.

The home side were never troubled by their opponents and Saturday's return in the Pyreneean principality will surely be a formality. Coleraine opened the scoring after 17 minutes with a Paul Gaston header and six minutes later an error by the visiting goalkeeper, Ivan Perianes Meca, let in Michael McHugh to lob the second.

After the Sant Julia midfielder David Codina Aguilar was sent off for two yellow cards early in the second half, the substitute Sean Armstrong scored a clever third goal after 75 minutes. In the 89th minute the visiting captain Josep Matamala Brossa headed a Barry Curran cross into his own net, and in injury time Curran added the fifth with a well-struck drive. But Coleraine's manager Marty Quinn was not there to savour the win – he was at his daughter's wedding in Galway.

There was no such luck for the League of Wales side, Caersws, in Bulgaria. The European debutants, who are managed by the former Wrexham stalwart Mickey Evans, went down 2-0 to the more experienced Marek Dupnitsa, for whom Vladislav Vladov scored two late goals to give Caersws a tough task in Saturday's return leg at Aberystwyth.

The League of Ireland outfit St Patrick's Athletic almost snatched a bold victory in Croatia. They went ahead away to Rijeka with a Paul Osam goal just prior to half-time. Mate Brajkovic equalised but Ger McCarthy's 78th-minute goal gave St Pat's a lead they held until the 89th minute. Then two late goals from Sandro Klic gave Rijeka a 3-2 advantage to defend in Dublin next Sunday.

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