Motherwell manager Stuart McCall candid about gulf in class

Levante's Juanlu celebrates scoring the opening goal against Motherwell

Stuart McCall all but admitted his battling Motherwell side were out of the Europa League after La Liga outfit Levante marked their first European match with a 2-0 win at Fir Park.

"It's going to be a tough ask. We go over there with a mountain to climb," the manager told BBC Radio Scotland.

"We were beaten by a far better side.

"They always looked dangerous because they are technically very good on the ball. I just thought they were better than us in the key areas of the park."

The Steelmen started well and had the home fans urging them on against the team that finished sixth in the Spanish League last season.

But Motherwell's passing and decision making let them down at crucial moments, which meant the Levante goalkeeper Keylor Navas was rarely troubled.

Motherwell looked to be heading for the interval with the match goalless but the defence was caught out when Theofanis Gekas, in an offside position, left a cross from deep for Juanlu, who rushed in to control the pass and score.

And in the second period, slack defending allowed Christian Lell to set up Nabil El Zhar to add another.

McCall said: "For the first goal, the lad has run from an onside position. The original reaction was offside [for Gekas] but we have not reacted to it. Everybody is disappointed but it was the correct decision.

"[For the second goal] We have not defended it well enough. They have got behind us and cut the ball back.

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Interview - Motherwell manager Stuart McCall

"In the first 10-15 minutes of the second half we had the impetus and we played quite well but without creating any great chances.

"They showed their class in the end and to be honest I think they are a better side than Panathinaikos [Motherwell's Champions League qualifying opponents].

"We never reached the heights either individually or collectively like we did in the Champions League game.

"They were very good and we were nowhere near our best."

The Fir Park manager praised his central defensive partnership of 19-year-old Adam Cummins and Shaun Hutchinson, 21, although the latter was red carded when, as last man, he brought down Gekas on the edge of the box as the Greek was about to shoot.

With Simon Ramsden injured and Shaun Hutchinson suspended for the return leg in Valencia next Thursday, Motherwell's central pairing may have an even more youthful look than the duo that started the home leg.

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