St Johnstone Win As Hibs Are Destroyed
Manager Pat Fenlon admits Hibernian must learn quickly from their mistakes on the European stage after a wretched defeat.
The Edinburgh side suffered a humiliating 7-0 loss to Malmo at Easter Road last night, crashing out of the second qualifying round of the Europa League with a 9-0 aggregate loss over the two legs.
Hibs begin their Scottish Premiership campaign against Motherwell on August 4, swiftly followed by a derby clash with city rivals Hearts.
And Fenlon now faces the daunting task of lifting his players' morale for the new league season after such a crushing blow.
He said: ``You have to learn. It's as simple as that. Managers have to learn and players have to learn.
``It's difficult at this stage to be too positive about anything so I'm disappointed with that.''
Adding to Hibs' woes, captain James McPake faces a spell on the sidelines after being forced out of the action early on with a back problem.
Fenlon added: ``The season starts next week so it's a massive challenge to get it right.
``Hopefully we will get a couple of players back from injury but it looks like we are going to lose James for a while.''
The aggregate result is the worst suffered by a Scottish team on the continental stage.
Magnus Eriksson, Emil Forsberg, Markus Halsti, Miiko Albornoz, Tokelo Rantie, Jiloan Hamad and Simon Kroon all grabbed a goal apiece for the rampant Swedes, with Eriksson and Hamad also on target in the first leg.
Fenlon admitted his overriding feeling was embarrassment, as he apologised to the club's supporters who witnessed the capitulation at Easter Road.
He said: ``I'm embarrassed more than anything else. It's difficult to say too much to be honest.
``We did all right at the start of the game and then conceded a goal and lost our way. It's very, very disappointing.
``It's difficult to say anything after a game like that. I've got to look at myself and not just blame players.
``The fans were fantastic and I apologise to the supporters.
``I won't make excuses, it's not good enough. I know how they're feeling.''
Malmo coach Rikard Norling said: ``We had a lucky day.
``Every time we came close to the goal it seemed that the ball wanted to go in for us.
``I think when McPake had to go off, maybe Hibernian lost a little bit of belief.''
Meanwhile St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright has dared his men to dream of a place in the Europa League group stages after they stunned Norwegian heavyweights Rosenborg.
The Perth side's 2-1 aggregate win over the former Champions League quarter-finalists has set up a third qualifying round clash with FC Minsk.
Now Wright has urged his men to carry the same self-confidence into next Thursday's first leg in Belarus as they showed in dismissing the current Norwegian league leaders from the competition.
He said: ``It was magnificent. It could not have gone any better for us. I think it will only be in the morning that we will realise the magnitude of the result.
``Now we face a rush to find out about Minsk
``We want the journey to continue. I told the players they would look back on this night with a lot of pride and satisfaction long after they've finished playing.
``But we dared to believe that we could beat Rosenborg and now we're saying let's see how far we can go. You want to get through the next round and the play-off and into the Europa League group. And on the standard they've set over these two games that wouldn't be unreachable.''
St Johnstone led from the first leg in Trondheim thanks to Frazer Wright's winner but fell behind in the Perth return after just four minutes at McDiarmid.
Alexander Soderlund - the 14-cap Norway international making his first start for the club - held off two challenges before bundling a low shot through Wright's legs and past the stationary Alan Mannus.
But 20-year-old hometown boy Stevie May made himself a Perth hero when he combined with David Wotherspoon - another raised in the Fair City - to prod past Daniel Orlund after the Rosenborg stopper had got himself into a mess with defender Mikael Dorsin.
St Johnstone had to endure a late barrage as the visitors desperately sought the second goal which would have sent them through but held strong to maintain an unbeaten home record in European competition that now stretches to 42 years.
May said: ``I don't remember much about the goal. I know David Wotherspoon played it in but it was just a nothing ball, the defender was in front of me and I threw a leg around the side of him and managed to lob the ball over the keeper and there's no better feeling when the ball goes in the net. It was a goal made in Perth with two local lads.
``I'm not too sure what FC Minsk are like but I doubt they'll be as high a calibre as Rosenborg. But that's not to say they won't cause us problems or be more of a threat, but we believe we're good enough and if we work as hard as we have then we can progress.''
Wright added: ``For us to turn over a team of that European quality and pedigree and the budget that they have is something the players should be very proud of.
``Will people round Europe take notice of this result? Yeah, I believe so. I do. It probably hasn't sunk in for me yet. They are a side of internationals in every position.
``The pleasing thing for me was that over two legs, it was deserved. They ran out of ideas and were knocking long balls into the box. That is all down to players and how hard they worked.''
Rosenborg boss Per Joar Hansen insisted he felt the best team had lost but backed Saints to progress.
``Can St Johnstone make the group stages? Of course,'' he said.
``They beat us and play with a big heart.
``I thought we were the better team but we didn't score the goals to go further in the competition.''