Watching St. Johnstone tussle with European giants Galatasaray away in Istanbul on the TV was absolutely astounding. Callum Davidson's side battled to a 1-all draw in Turkey doing the club and the fans proud with an inspiring performance.
[St. Johnstone vs Galatasaray was a hard fought affair]
This 1st leg stalemate gives Saints an actual chance of making it through to the next round and is so much more than we could ever have asked or hoped for. A 1-1 draw against Galatasaray will go down as one of our all-time best ever results. So, what did we learn from this monumental fixture?
Jason Kerr Has to be on Penalty Duty
The second question asked after Muslera rugby tackled Chris Kane in the box, getting the 123 cap Uruguayan sent off and giving saints a penalty was who would be taking the spot kick. Of Course the first question asked was, "is this really happening????".
St. Johnstone had missed their previous 3 penalties, with 3 different takers all failing to score from 12 yards out. Usual takers Liam Craig and Stevie May were both on the bench while McCann and Wotherspoon have both blasted over in recent weeks.
[Kerr puts the ball on the penalty spot]
Captain Jason Kerr assumed the responsibility and stepped up in one of the biggest, high pressure moments of St. Johnstone's history. The only previous spot kick that he had taken for Saints was his thumping effort in the shootout win over Rangers, smashing the ball into the upper right corner of the goal.
Kerr stepped up and... scored! A truly wonderful penalty leaving the substitute goalie with no chance of keeping it out as it nestled in the left hand side of the goal. It had power and placement.
It is unusual to see a Centre Back be a teams designated penalty taker, bar Steve Bruce over 25 years ago, but Kerr takes a brilliant penalty and when May or Craig miss out I think that Kerr HAS to be number 1 from 12 yards out. What a moment that penalty was and that goal is massive for St. Johnstone which keeps us in the tie and could give us a chance of going through.
[Jason Kerr takes the all important penalty]
Galatasaray are Still a Quality Side
The Turkish giants had a whole host of chances throughout the game with notable efforts including missing from 5 yards out in the opening minutes, hitting the post in the first half and a couple of corners which forced Clark into two top saves.
[Shaun Rooney defends Ryan Babel]
They showed their quality most when they went behind and just after Kerr had put us into the lead and as they subsequently went down to ten men, it all came crashing back down to Earth for St. Johnstone. The Turkish giants went on the offensive straight away and were pressing high up the field straight away.
Young defender Reece Devine (who was excellent on the night and barely put a foot wrong) showed a little bit of inexperience as he half committed to an interception, therefore missing the ball and allowing it to slip through to Boey who took it well and fired a brilliant strike low and hard across Zander Clark into the far corner.
[Boey celebrates his leveller]
Devine was unlucky and on another day the shot goes wide and we keep the lead but sadly Galatasaray are European regulars for a reason and they will capitalise on mistakes. It isn't the end of the world, 1-1 is still a magnificent result, but instead this goal was a painful reminder to stay composed against top opposition.
Galatasaray held the ball for large periods of the game and if it wasn't for some poor finishing they could easily have been a few goals up however, at the end of the day they didn't take their chances it comes back to McDiarmid all square.
Ali McCann is Out of This World
Although this isn't really something that we have just learned, Ali McCann showed the world once again last night why Steve Brown's valuation of the young midfielder is so high. McCann covered every blade of grass yesterday and his all action performance is one of the best I have seen in a Saints shirt.
[Ali McCann was excellent from minute 1-90]
The 21 year old was certainly up their for man of the match and seemed to do everything but score. His passing was on-point, he pressed high and tackled with aggression. St. Johnstone will find it difficult to keep hold of the Northern Ireland international and he will go far in the game.
He is certainly one of the best youth prospects I have ever seen come out of McDiarmid Park.
St. Johnstone were magnificent overall and this result gives us a fighting chance of going through against such prestigious opposition. It looks as though the council are set to give St. Johnstone the go-ahead for a full capacity crowd in the home leg and it would be great if the fans could go in numbers to get behind the team.