Gallagher dreaming of Europa League group stage with Motherwell

Motherwell skipper Declan Gallagher says the Steelmen have a great chance to qualify for Europa League group stages but is under no illusions about how difficult that task will be.
Declan Gallagher was part of the Scotland squad who faced Israel earlier this monthDeclan Gallagher was part of the Scotland squad who faced Israel earlier this month
Declan Gallagher was part of the Scotland squad who faced Israel earlier this month

Following last night’s penalty shoot-out win at Coleraine the `Well next face Hapoel Be’er Sheva of Israel away and the winner of that tie will face either FC Viktoria Plzen of the Czech Republic or SønderjyskE of Denmark at home.

Having avoided some of the “giants” of Europe such as AC Milan, who were in Motherwell’s pot, Gallagher says reaching the group stages will be tough but achievable.

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He said: "You have to dream, without ambition what's the point in playing football?

“We have to believe we can go over to Israel and get a result.

"We're enjoying European competition and getting a buzz.

"It’s a career high for me having never played in Europe before and its the same for a few other boys in the squad.

"There's potential to get to the group stages, one legged cup ties are like cup finals and anything could happen.

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"It's one of the better draws we could have had but it's still three hard teams and it will be a big ask.

"The more rounds we progress through the better and achievement it is."

After taking a 2-0 lead at the showgrounds on Thursday night Motherwell were pegged back to 2-2 and had to play extra time with ten men after Bevis Mugabi’s sending off.

In the end it was keeper Trevor Carson who was the hero saving three consecutive spot kicks in the shoot-out to secure his sides place in the third round.

"Trevor is a massive character for us in the changing room.

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“Even me being the captain I look up to him, he's a great guy to have about the place and having a goalkeeper of his ability behind you and knowing you had him in the shoot out gave us confidence.

"At the end of the day you have to win the game ugly sometimes, we've played good football this season and had most of the possession and lost but the two we've won we've had less possession.

"Winning ugly is just as good as winning pretty.

"We should probably have been out of sight and then they had two soft penalties in the second half - that changes the game and going down to ten men and showing the character we did means I think we deserve a bit more respect.

“It show the character and team spirit we're building here.

I'm delighted we are through to the next round, performances don't matter if you win the game.”

Motherwell face Aberdeen at Pittodrie this Sunday before heading to Israel for next Thursday’s match with Hapoel.