The same eleven that won in Iceland last week took to the field again, this time in Norway, but they were soon under pressure. The home side dominated the opening encounters and Randolph was in action several times inside the first ten minutes.
The Motherwell defence got some short lived relief when Forbes managed a shot over the top and Hateley forced a save from Lindegaard but it was the home side who looked the more likely to score. That was evident when Phillips rattled the post with a shot from outside the box.
Hammell relieved the tension with a shot and we held on to reach the dressing room without loss. Brown and Knox had their works cut out and their solution was to replace Sutton and Forbes with Humphrey and McHugh. The striker needed some attention for a knock in the first period and that may have influenced the decision. It was an attacking move that soon paid a dividend.
The golden goal arrived within three minutes of the restart. Hateley’s crossed ball was forced back into the danger zone by Humphrey and Murphy took his chance. He had to turn but managed to get a shot off, low into the left side of the goal. He overtakes Stevie Kirk’s European record.
Aalesund countered by making a double substitution and once again we were forced back. The back four made blocks and tackles to survive the storm. With 20 minutes remaining the home side threw on the last substitute.
We were unable to make much headway and the final stages became a catalogue of crosses and shots that were either off target, saved or met by defensive blocks. The Norwegians frustration began to show and a few heavy challenges were made. They collected a couple of late bookings.
A minute hade elapsed of the two added by the referee and we conceded. Saunders was adjudged to have fouled Phillips and a penalty was awarded. They scored to snatch a draw in the dying seconds.
We came so close to a third Europa League win of the year but no doubt we would have settled for a draw and an away goal had it been offered beforehand. All to play for at Fir Park next Thursday.
Thursday 29 July 2010-07-29
Aalesund FK (Mathieson pen 90+1) 1 Motherwell 1 (Murphy 48)
Tean; Randolph, Hammell, Reynolds, Craigan, Saunders, Hateley, Jennings, Forbes, Lasley, Sutton, Murphy