Non-Old Firm clubs have fared horrifically in Europe in recent years, so despite taking a slender one goal lead from the first left back to McDiarmid Park, St.Johnstone were tipped by many to be on the end of a Rosenborg onslaught before being knocked out by the Norwegian giants.
As the old saying goes, football is a funny old game and last night’s game in front of 7850 fans saw the home fans dreams turn into reality, a result that would have shocked Europe. The visitors took an early lead through Soderlund on four minutes, but Stevie May popped up just after 20 minutes to equalise on the night and give the hosts the advantage as they held on to a famous result.
With the news that YouTube star and pivotal influence in the first leg Chris Millar had picked up a groin strain and deemed unfit many thought this would be the start of the unravelling of the European dream. Rosenberg were not without their own problems coming into the tie without centre back Strandberg and Chibuike dropping to the bench.
An erratic start by the home side, seemingly disrupted by the swelling stands, saw the visitors take an early lead to cancel out Frazer Wright’s crucial away goal. With the ball loose outside the box Haaselbaink was caught napping as the impressive Svensson picked up the loose ball teeing up Soderland, who strode into the box leaving Mannus helpless as he rolled the ball into the right hand corner of the Saints goal.
The tie suddenly looked very daunting for St.Johnstone, but they responded with composure and passing which helped them get back into the game as they secured long spells of possession and pressure.
Their persistence and composure was rewarded, when on 20 minutes, David Wotherspoon lofted an innocuous ball behind Dorsin for May to chase down and with the keeper in no mans land, the striker stretched a leg out and got his toe to the ball sending it into the open net. Sending McDiarmid Park into a frenzy as the dream was still alive.
With the momentum and crowd behind them, St.Johnstone kept the tempo high in search of that vital second goal and almost snatched it when Hasselbaink was sent through on goal, but Ronning applied enough pressure to force the Saints striker’s toe poked shot agonisingly wide of the goal.
Rosenborg proved once again proved how good a side they could be, as they had some excellent breaks with the skillful Mikkelsen and Svensson causing panic each time they drove from deep. Target man Soderlund was an impressive outlet proving to be a thorn in the side of Wright and Anderson at every turn.
The match was on a knife-edge after Soderlund’s fourth minute goal and both teams went hammer and tongues to secure that winning goal, as the time ticked past the 70 minute mark, Rosenberg’s superior match fitness started to tell as they launched wave upon wave of attack on a St.Johnstone team who were still in their pre-season.
With each passing minute the tension on the pitch and in the stands was more and more evident, but keeper Mannus kept his sides hopes alive when Nielson broke into the box from the left and as he lofted a shot towards the top corner the big Irishman stretched out a hand to claw it away from danger.
With six minutes to go Mannus was alert once again, as Soderlund flicked the ball to an unmarked Hoiland eight yards out but as he got ready to shoot, he was met with the considerable frame of the Northern Ireland keeper who blocked his shot and sealed the draw and a 2-1 aggregate victory for the little team from Perth.
A tired and stunned Tommy Wright, said: “Magnificent, to win over two legs is something the players should be proud of, it probably hasn’t sunk in for me yet.”
St Johnstone: Mannus, Mackay, Scobbie, Cregg, Wright, Anderson (Miller 78), McDonald, MacLean, Wotherspoon, Hasselbaink (Edwards 64), May (Fallon 78).
Subs not used: Banks, Caddis, Brian Easton, Dylan Easton.
Rosenborg BK: Orlund, Gamboa, Dorsin, Reginiussen, Ronning (Hoiland 23), Jensen, Nielsen, Mikkelsen (Dockal 59), Soderlund, Berntsen (Chibuike 75), Svensson.
Subs not used: Hansen, Moe, Selnaes, Sorloth.