Doing well…one hurdle to go
Motherwell would have would have been gutted about giving a late goal away in the away leg in Norway but they certainly didn’t let it show at Fir Park. Scotland’s two other European entrants this week were in desperate need of an early goal but the team with a bit more patience to play with flew out of the blocks.
Two goals in the opening thirteen minutes put Motherwell on easy street against Aalesunds and went a long way to booking Motherwell’s spot in the final qualifying round in the Europa League. A third goal in the 89th minute provided the perfect way to round off a great evenings work in Lanarkshire!
This marks a tremendous achievement for Motherwell and three wins out of four matches, a clean sweep only prevented by an injury time spot-kick, suggests that Craig Brown has the team playing in the manner he got Scotland playing in qualification for major tournaments.
Unfortunately, it will all come to nothing (apart from some great memories) if Motherwell stumble in the final qualifying round, which is a big shame to be honest. Then again, that was known way before Motherwell kicked a ball in anger this season so it’s not as if anyone can complain now if that turns out to be the case.
It is not as though we are writing off Motherwell’s chances in the final qualifying round but Friday’s draw could bring some tough challenges.
The draw for the Europa League qualifying round takes place at 13:30 as Motherwell join Celtic and Dundee United in the mix to make it through to the Europa League group stages.
With Rangers already in the Champions League, it would be brilliant to have Scottish participants in the Europa League groups too. We’re quite quick to kick the Scottish game so getting some more clubs gaining valuable European experience has to be something worth backing and cheering.
During Motherwell’s progress, we’ve been quick to praise Craig Brown but it should be remembered that Motherwell players have picked up good experience in the qualifying rounds in recent years. Even though they have yet to make the proper group stages, some Well players have played in more European matches than many Scottish footballers since the 1980s!
This can be seen with Jamie Murphy now extending his lead at the top of Motherwell’s all time top scoring charts in European football. If you told a Well fan four years ago that they’d have a new top scorer in Europe before 2010 was out, they’d have said you were telling a funnier joke than Tam Cowan could crack.
Mind you, the list of things that tell you un-funnier jokes than Tam Cowan is an extremely short list. Not that Tam cares about us having a pop at his un-funniness, he will be too busy waiting to see who stands in the Well’s way of reaching the Europa League.