St Johnstone and Motherwell exit Europa League

From left to right, Dave Mackay, Gary McDonald and Tam Scobbie look on as the penalty shoot-out goes against St Johnstone. Picture: SNS
From left to right, Dave Mackay, Gary McDonald and Tam Scobbie look on as the penalty shoot-out goes against St Johnstone. Picture: SNS
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ST JOHNSTONE manager Tommy Wright accepted his side were the architects of their own downfall in crashing out of the Europa League after a dramatic penalty shoot-out last night.

Despite his distaste for the tactics and attitude employed by conquerors FC Minsk, who picked up six bookings and had captain Sergei Sasnouski sent off after the final whistle for taunting the Saints players, Wright refused to seek excuses.

His team, leading 1-0 from the first leg in Belarus, missed a host of chances to put the tie beyond Minsk before the visitors netted through Serbian full-back Milos Rnic in the 75th minute. With no further scoring in extra-time, Saints were edged out 3-2 on penalties.

It completed a miserable night for Scottish clubs on the continental stage, Motherwell also making their Europa League exit when they lost 1-0 in Russia to Kuban Krasnodar for a 3-0 aggregate defeat.

With Hibs humiliated 9-0 on aggregate by Malmo in the previous round, it leaves Celtic as Scotland’s only remaining European participants once more as they await today’s Champions League Play-Off round draw.

“We can moan at the referee’s decisions all night long but we only have ourselves to blame,” said Wright. “The match was so one-sided at times it was untrue and we should have made more of the opportunities we created.

“I’m extremely disappointed for the players. They put a lot into it and were by far the better team over the two legs.

“Minsk were goading our players at the end and that’s why their captain was sent off. It shows you the class of them. I wouldn’t expect my players to act like that.

“There was so much persistent fouling from them during the game and we should have had a penalty in extra-time when Rory Fallon was clearly fouled. But the ref is not to blame for us going out.”

Steven MacLean failed with the crucial fifth penalty for Saints, which would have taken the shoot-out into sudden death, with Dave Mackay and Paddy Cregg also unable to convert from 12 yards.

Striker MacLean reflected philosophically on his part in events and admitted St Johnstone should not have allowed the tie to reach that stage.

“I just tried to hit it wide of him but he guessed right. But it should never had gone to penalties. They are a stuffy team and just sat with everyone behind the ball. They didn’t really show any ambition but got their goal with what was really their only shot on target. We are all gutted in the dressing room tonight.”