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Callum Davidson proud of St Johnstone players despite Europa League exit

St Johnstone v Galatasaray – UEFA Europa Conference League – Third Qualifying Round – Second Leg – McDiarmid Park
(Image credit: Steve Welsh)

Manager Callum Davidson has told his St Johnstone players to hold their heads high despite their 5-3 Europa League exit to Galatasaray at McDiarmid Park.

Scotland’s domestic double cup winners had drawn 1-1 with the visitors in the first leg of their Europa League third qualifying round in Istanbul last week but the second leg proved just too much.

Striker Mbaye Diagne put the visitors ahead on the half-hour mark but Saints levelled seven minutes later when keeper Ismail Cipe, under pressure from striker Chris Kane, was unable to keep the ball from crossing the line.

Further goals from Kerem Akturkoglu, Sofiane Feghouli and substitute Emre Kilinc made it 4-1 before Michael O’Halloran pulled a goal back in added time to make it 4-2.

Davidson said: “The players are disappointed. They are footballers and they want to win.

“I said in the dressing room, you can walk out the stadium with your heads held high. It was a great tie for us, a marquee tie and I thought we performed to a very good level.

“If you had told me two hours of football and we would be all square with Galatasaray, obviously at that point I couldn’t be any happier.

“I thought the lads performed unbelievably well, went a goal down and we reacted really well. You saw at the end the lads never gave up. I can’t ask for more than that.

“A couple of weeks ago they were trying to qualify for the Champions League and a team like St Johnstone took them that far into the tie.

“I was a little bit disappointed with the third and fourth goals, it probably takes the tie away from us, but I am really happy with the players.

“I think you saw the quality they had, the pass and movement, the one touch football round the corner, that is the quality they had and we knew that. They are a class team. I thought they were very good.

“I keep going back to the result in Istanbul. That was an unbelievable result to keep the tie going.

“Even when we went a goal down I thought we could be in trouble because they kept the ball so well, but all credit to the players. They kept fighting and even at the end, 4-1 down, they kept going.”