August 8, 2013
Saints pay penalty
St Johnstone waved goodbye to their 42-year unbeaten home record in European competition as FC Minsk claimed a 3-2 penalty shoot-out victory to end their Europa League hopes.
Milnos Rnic struck the only goal of the game for the visitors after 75 minutes but Saints clung on through extra time to take the third qualifying round encounter to the spot-kick decider.
Skipper Dave MacKay and Paddy Cregg missed the Scots' first two attempts but salvation looked to be on the cards when Alan Mannus saved successive attempts by Vital Kibuk and Siarhei Kazeka to level it 2-2.
But Steven MacLean saw his decisive penalty stopped by the Belarusians' number one Vladzimir Bushma to end the Perth men's hopes of landing the B£1.1million windfall that comes with a place in the group stages.
Hamburg, Vasas Budapest, Zeljeznicar Sarajevo, VPS Vaasa, Monaco, Eskisehirspor and Rosenborg have all failed to topple Saints on their own ground since they made their UEFA Cup bow in 1971.
But the stubborn Belarusians snatched finally ended that proud run with Rnic's volley as they took the game beyond extra-time.
Yet St Johnstone - who had led 1-0 from the first leg - passed up a couple of gilt-edged chances in the first half that would have sealed their place in the play-off round.
First Stevie May failed to finish from 12 yards when Minsk stopper Bushma blocked at his feet after 28 minutes. Then Nigel Hasselbaink sent a half-volley wide of target seven minutes before the break.
There were warning sides for the Perth men that Minsk were dangerous when Aliaksandr Sviarchynski came close with a set-piece midway through the second period but that near-miss was not heeded and Rnic equalised for the away side with quarter of an hour left.
Saints' agony was confirmed with MacLean's miss in the shoot-out, while there were angry scenes when Siarhei Sasnouski was shown a red card after the final whistle for goading the deflated home team.
The Perth men were happy to throw men forward in the early stages but that only played into the Belarusians' counter-attacking ploy and Saints were lucky to escape when Raman Vasilyuk slipped past Frazer Wright 10 minutes in before being foiled by Steven Anderson's block 15 yards out.
Siarhei Sasnouski earned the first booking of the game for a tug back on the home side's Steven MacLean on the edge of the box, although the striker claimed it should have been red as he was denied the chance to chase down May's flick beyond the Minsk back four.
As the game moved towards the half-hour mark, Hasselbaink showed terrific vision to pick out May's diagonal run across the box with a slide-rule pass to leave him through on goal. The pace of the assist was perfect but the striker's contact was anything but as he miss-hit his low shot straight off Bushma's legs.
MacLean was foiled by Sasnouski as he tried to spin and shoot from David Wotherspoon's volleyed pass while Hasselbaink put a shot fractionally wide from May's cut back on 36 minutes.
Whilst St Johnstone retained the vast bulk of possession as the game moved into the second period, their failure to build on their narrow lead meant they never fully seemed at ease.
Opportunities were wasted - Dave MacKay, May and Wotherspoon all sent free-kicks from scoring territory into the stand behind Bushma's goal - and the jitters grew when Sviarchynski flashed a free-kick a couple of inches over the top of keeper Alan Mannus's crossbar after 65 minutes.
Another swift counter had Saints struggling to keep up with the Belarusians and the home side were grateful when Andrei Razin cut in from the right to send a curling shot wide of target.
But their worst fears were realised when Rnic found the corner of the net with a first-time volley from the angle of the box that skipped past Mannus' despairing dive to leave the tie level.
MacKay finally succeeded in getting a free-kick on target in stoppage time but Bushma saved to take the game into extra time.
Tam Scobbie's slip-up almost gifted Sviarchynski the winner 12 minutes into the additional first period but he hit the side netting from six yards out while MacLean was denied by Bushma after latching onto substitute Rory Fallon's knock-down after the change of ends.
There were angry shouts when Montenegrin referee Pavle Radovanovic failed to hand Fallon a penalty after Sasnouski climbed all over him while MacLean shot wide soon after.
And so each side were handed five spot-kicks of their own but despite Mannus' heroics as he retrieved a grave situation following the two early misses, MacLean could not keep up his part of the bargain as Bushma dived to his left crush Perth hopes once and for all.
|1 Onur Kivrak||1 Aleksandr Sulima|
|23 Remzi Giray Kacar||20 Oleg Veretilo|
|28 Ondrej Celustka||6 Sergei Politevich|
|22 Mustafa Yumlu||26 Sergei Kontsevoi|
|92 Olcan Adin||22 Igor Stasevich|
|8 Soner Aydogdu||10 Nemanja Nikolic|
|10 Adrian Mierzejewski||21 Hernan Figueredo|
|18 Aykut Akgun||19 Aleksandr Danilov|
|7 Volcan Sen||4 Slobodan Simovic|
|61 Zeki Yavru||88 Nenad Adomovic|
|12 Filho Paulo Henrique||16 Carles Coto|
|89 Zeki Ayvaz||Aleksandr Gutor 30|
|4 Aykut Demir||Pavel Plaskonny 3|
|15 Florent Malouda||Nikita Korzun 18|
|25 Gomes da Costa Carlos Alanzinho||Aleksandr Bychenok 7|
|19 Abdulkadir Ozdemir||Vitali Trubila 85|
|32 Yusuf Erdogan||Artem Bykov 17|
|9 Emre Gural||Vladimir Khvashchinskiy 9|
|Aykut Demir for Remzi Giray Kacar (61)||Vladimir Khvashchinskiy for Carles Coto (60)|
|Florent Malouda for Adrian Mierzejewski (67)||Artem Bykov for Sergei Politevich (67)|
|Yusuf Erdogan for Volcan Sen (85)||Vitali Trubila for Oleg Veretilo (84)|
|Soner Aydogdu (35)||Nemanja Nikolic (70)|
|Zeki Yavru (39)|
|Aykut Demir (78)|
|· Squads: Trabzonspor | Dinamo Minsk|