Motherwell FC in Europe 2013/14

The draw for the Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round will take place on Friday at noon, with Motherwell entering as an unseeded side.  Stuart McCall’s side will have to progress through two rounds if they want to make it to the group stage for the first time.  The 3rd Qualifying Round matches will take place on 1st and 8th August.

Motherwell are playing in Europe for the 8th season in their history.  They made their debut in 1991/92, and have become regular qualifiers in recent years, with this season’s campaign being their 5th in the last 6 seasons.  In total, they have played 13 ties against opposition from 13 different countries covering almost the entire geographical spain of Europe.


The countries and cities Motherwell have travelled to for European ties.


Their first taste of Europe was in the Cup Winners’ Cup after that famous 1991 Scottish Cup win, and their campaign started inauspiciously with a 2-0 defeat to GKS Katowice in Poland.  That made it a tough ask for the 2nd leg at Fir Park, but Stevie Kirk scored their first ever European goal to give them a 1-0 half-time lead.  Unfortunately, Katowice scored just after the hour mark, and despite two goals in the last 5 minutes the Steelmen lost out on away goals.

They had to wait 3 years for another chance, this time in the UEFA Cup.  HB Torshavn were thrashed home and away in the Preliminary Round, setting up a glamour tie against Borussia Dortmund.  The first leg in Germany finished just 1-0 to the Germans, but any hopes of a shock result were extinguished by a 2nd half Karl-Heinz Riedle double at Fir Park.  The Motherwell midfield for those games featured Paul Lambert, who impressed enough to win a move to Dortmund, where he would go on to win the Champions League.

The following season saw Motherwell qualify again – as Premier Division runners-up – but the Preliminary Round tie would see the club’s most embarrassing European defeat.  They were drawn against Finnish side MyPA, and despite taking the lead through Shaun McSkimming after 9 minutes at Fir Park, things swiftly unravelled, and they lost 3-1 in front of a shellshocked home crowd.  In the 2nd leg in Finland, they restored a bit of pride with a 2-0 win, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a defeat on away goals.

After a long 13 year wait, they returned to European competition in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup – the final season before it was rebranded.  They had a tough draw against Nancy, but a 1-0 defeat away defeat gave them a fighting chance at Fir Park.  Their hopes were short-lived though, as future Celtic striker Marc-Antoine Fortune scored an early goal in a 2-0 win for the French side.

They redeemed themselves the following season in the first ever Europa League, but only after suffering early ignominy.  Their qualification came via Fair Play, so they had to enter at the 1st Qualifying Round, which started on the 2nd July.  Due to pitch improvements at Fir Park, their opening match at home to Llanelli was played at the Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie, but even the early start and unfamiliar surroundings couldn’t excuse an embarrassing 1-0 defeat.  They rescued the tie with a 3-0 win in the 2nd leg in Wales.

The 2nd Qualifying Round saw a 1-0 defeat in Albania against Flamurtari Vlore, but they turned things round emphatically in Airdrie with an 8-1 win.  Jamie Murphy scored their only European hat-trick (to date), as they rushed into a 6-0 half-time lead.  The next round was a step too far, as Steaua Bucharest crushed them 3-0 in Romania and 3-1 at the Excelsior.

A 3rd consecutive qualification was secured for the 2010/11 season, and the European experience from previous seasons paid off.  After a 1-0 win over Breidablik at Fir Park, they secured a nervy 1-0 win in Iceland through a Jamie Murphy goal.  The following round saw them comfortably defeat an Aalesunds side which had Anders Lindegaard in goals.  Murphy scored his 6th European goal in a 1-1 draw in Norway, making him the club’s all-time top European scorer, and he took his tally to 7 with another goal in a 3-0 2nd leg win at Fir Park.

Despite being unseeded for the play-off round, they were handed a winnable tie against Odense which gave them a chance of making the lucrative group stage.  After going 2-0 down in Denmark, Tom Hateley scored a stoppage time free-kick to secure a crucial away goal ahead of the match at Fir Park.  A crowd in excess of 9000 turned out, but Odense scored a crucial goal midway through the first half.  Despite dominating the 2nd half, and seeing their opponents reduced to 9 men, Motherwell couldn’t find any way through, even squandering a penalty as Jamie Murphy hit the post.

In 2012/13, ‘Well made it into the Champions League after Rangers’ administration and eventual liquidation meant they couldn’t get a UEFA license.  The 3rd Qualifying Round saw them drawn Greek side Panathinaikos, whose substantial Champions League experience paid off as they won 2-0 in a fairly even match at Fir Park.  In the second leg in Athens, Motherwell held out until half-time, but eventually lost 3-0 to suffer a harsh 5-0 aggregate defeat.  Their adventure didn’t end there though, as they dropped down into the Play-off Round of the Europa League, where they met Spanish side Levante.  Another 2-0 defeat at Fir Park, followed by a 1-0 loss in Spain meant that that they ended their campaign with four defeats and no goals scored.

2013/14 Europa League

Motherwell will have to progress through two rounds to make it to the group stage of the Europa League.  Stuart McCall’s side will be unseeded for Friday’s draw, which makes things a great deal tougher for them.

Due to the short turnaround between the 2nd and 3rd Qualifying Rounds, the draw for the 3rd Qualifying Round will take place in between the two legs of the 2nd Qualifying Round ties.  So, for the purposes of the 3rd Qualifying Round draw, UEFA assume that the seeded side will win each of the 2nd Qualifying Round ties.  If any unseeded side wins their 2nd Qualifying Round tie, they would therefore assume the seeding of the side they beat.

All the information on seeding comes from Bert Kassies’ website, which is a must-read for anyone who is interested in how the competitions work.

3rd Qualifying Round

Matches: 1st & 8th August

18 clubs, including Motherwell, will enter the competition of this stage, where they will join the 40 winners from the 2nd Qualifying Round.

As mentioned earlier, the winners from the 2nd Qualifying Round will be unknown at the time of the draw, and UEFA will assume that the seeded sides win each of those ties.

The list below shows the seedings for the 3rd Qualifying Round.  Country protection means that Motherwell cannot draw the winners of the Rosenborg v St Johnstone tie, but they could face any of the other seeded teams.


About SPLstats
Providing statistics and trivia about Scottish football. Main focus is the SPL, but all Scottish football will be covered. Not affiliated to the SPL.

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