IFA Premiership side Linfield will face a three-goal deficit when they take on AEL Limassol in the second leg of their Champions League clash.
Patrick Vouho rounded Blues keeper Alan Blayney to score the opening goal in the second qualifying round game.
Edwin Ouon rose unmarked to net number two for the Cypriot champions with a glancing header on the half hour.
Former Charlton and Gillingham striker scored the third with a free close-range header in the 54th minute.
Linfield did well to avoid any further damage in the tiring Limassol heat.
They were under pressure from the start and the home side had two goals disallowed for offside in the first half.
Former Donegal Celtic player Ryan Henderson made his Linfield debut when he came on as a second half substitute for Jamie Mulgrew.
"This was the toughest contest I have ever taken a team into. They are an exceptional side," said Linfield manager David Jeffrey.
"The temperature was severe and the players coped tremendously well. They are nothing but heroes.
"Privately, I was hoping for respectability - the players did themselves and Linfield proud."
The second leg is at Windsor Park in Belfast on Wednesday 25 July.
AEL: Degra, Airosa, Carlitos, Ouon, Junior, Bebe, Gilberto, Dede, Monteiro, Dickson, Vouho.
Subs: Hidi, Maykon, Parpas, Nicolaou, Rui Miguel, Edmar, Paulo Sergio.
Linfield: Blayney, Douglas, Armstrong, Billy Joe Burns, Ervin, Curran, Garrett, Mulgrew, Thompson, Carvill, McAllister.
Subs: Glendinning, Quinn, Henderson, Hanley, McCaul, Fordyce, Browne.
Referee: Ken Henry Johnsen (Norway)