MacLean gives Saints advantage

02 August 2013 12:17

Steven MacLean handed St Johnstone a precious away goal as they continued their Europa League adventure with a 1-0 win over FC Minsk.

Having already caused a stir round Europe by knocking out Norwegian heavyweights Rosenborg, the Perth outfit followed that feat up with an impressive success in Belarus.

MacLean bagged the winner with 22 minutes left in Grodno - 140 miles west of the former Soviet state's capital, where Minsk's stadium is being redeveloped - to put Saints on course for the play-off round.

Netting the goal that booked Saints' place in the third qualifying round was not enough to keep Stevie May in the starting line-up as boss Tommy Wright opted to pack his midfield instead.

The 20-year-old striker - who struck the second-leg equaliser against Rosenborg - was replaced by Liam Caddis, while Murray Davidson took a place on the bench after re-signing with the club last week.

Visa delays and sky-high air fares meant the Scots travelled behind the former Iron Curtain with just one solitary supporter for backing.

But despite having to go it almost alone, the McDiarmid men coped well during a relatively trouble-free first 45 minutes.

Minsk did threaten within the opening moments, however, as their favoured counter-attacking approach conjured the first chance.

Roman Vasilyuk teed up Nikita Bukatkin with a rolled cut-back but his drive from 22 yards was off target.

Saints were not slow to get on the front foot either and Steven MacLean brought out home keeper Vladimir Bushma's first save on 12 minutes as he turned Dave MacKay's cross goalwards.

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 16:17