sport

Saints claim vital away goal

A close-range strike from Steven MacLean gave St Johnstone a potentially crucial away goal as they held Swiss side Luzern in their second qualifying round first-leg.

St Johnstone's squad was depleted by the summer departures of Nigel Hasselbaink, Paddy Cregg, Tim Clancy and Chris Iwelumo, and weakened further by injuries to Steven Anderson, Gary McDonald and Stevie May.

And they weathered an early storm from the hosts who went close midway through the first half when Jahmir Hyka's free-kick was beaten away by Alan Mannus.

Luzern almost opened the scoring moments later when Marco Schneuwly rattled Mannus' crossbar from 25 yards and St Johnstone had Brian Easton to thank for blocking Remo Freuler's effort on the goal-line.

They went into the break goalless, but within two minutes of the restart they were ahead when Luzern failed to clear a corner.

David Wotherspoon laid the ball off in the direction of MacLean who prodded the ball home from eight yards out to give the Scottish Cup winners the lead.

But on 69 minutes Luzern equalised when Schneuwly turned in the area before firing past Mannus' right-hand post.

Schneuwly and Dario Lezcano both had opportunities to give Luzern a lead before the second leg but St Johnstone held firm.

St Johnstone head back for the second leg in Scotland next Thursday.