St Johnstone soar in Europe as MacLean earns win

Stevie May congratulates Steven MacLean after his goal in St Johnstone's 1-0  win in Grodno. Picture: SNS
Stevie May congratulates Steven MacLean after his goal in St Johnstone's 1-0 win in Grodno. Picture: SNS
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St JOHNSTONE last night followed up their remarkable success over Rosenborg by beating FC Minsk 1-0 in Grodno in the first leg of the Europa League third qualifying round tie, while Motherwell lost 2-0 at home to Kuban Krasnodar.

Steven MacLean’s 68th-minute strike means St Johnstone will now return to McDiarmid Park for next week’s second leg with a precious away goal, although manager Tommy Wright admitted his side’s win in Belarus would not have won points for beauty. He told BBC Radio Scotland: “I don’t think we reached the highs that we did in beating Rosenborg in terms of performance. It wasn’t pretty, because they are not a pretty side to play against, but we got the 
result we deserved. We knew they were not technically better than Rosenborg, but had pace up front.”

Wright saluted MacLean for his clinical finish and his work-rate. “It was a classic striker’s strike,” Wright said. “Steven has taken it well and hit it across the ’keeper. You know what you get with Steven. He probably doesn’t get as many goals as he should because of all the work that he does outside the box for the team.”

The Northern Irishman also picked out teenager Liam Caddis – making his first start for Saints since September 2010 – for praise and welcomed back Murray Davidson after the midfielder signed on again with the Perth club last week. Wright said: “Liam Caddis for me was another who was excellent. He’s 19 years of age and hasn’t started a first-team game for 18 months. He had a very good performance.”