Aaron Hughes says that Crusaders should be proud of their performances over two legs against Fulham and admits that another test against an Northern Irish side would be tough.
Fulham progressed to the third qualifying round of the Europa League after a 7-1 aggregate victory, but Martin Jol’s were severely tested during a tight first leg in Belfast.
If last week’s game is anything to go by another European clash in Belfast will be another tough one for us. We expected that with them being at home and with the crowd behind them.
It’s a chance to cause an upset but we came through it and we were happy to keep a clean sheet at Craven Cottage. We’re happy to be in the next round and you have to go where the draw takes you, but it was nice for the fans to see a Premier League team in Belfast.
The Northern Ireland captain said it was crucial for Fulham to remain patient during the second leg last week as Crusaders started well.
We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy one. If we didn’t approach the game properly we knew we would come unstuck.
The important thing was to get the goals in Belfast and that gave us something to build on. They weren’t as offensive as at home and they hit us on the counter-attack a few times, creating a few openings but we stayed patient and got the goals.
Hughes admitted looked back on the two ties with a lot of pride.
It’s a reflection of the country and its people. I’m very proud of where I come from and the respect was mutual.
I think people have a lot of time for this club because we don’t take anyone for granted and we do things the right way. It’s strange because I’m usually leading out the Northern Ireland team in Belfast, but the fans have been very supportive.