Europa League qualifier: FC Luzern 1-1 St Johnstone

St Johnstone took the lead in Switzerland after being under the cosh in the first half
St Johnstone took the lead in Switzerland after being held back in the first half

Steven MacLean was on target as St Johnstone earned a first-leg 1-1 draw away to FC Luzern in the second round of Europa League qualifying.

The Saints striker poked a shot home from 10 yards in a busy penalty box early in the second half.

Captain Dave Mackay then went close for the Perth side with an effort from a corner that was saved.

The Swiss hosts levelled when Marco Schneuwly scored on 67 minutes, but the visitors were not breached again.

The Scottish Cup winners were under the cosh throughout the first half but grew into their first match of the season against the side that finished fourth in the Super League last term.

Tommy Wright's team beat Rosenborg of Norway and FC Minsk away from home in last year's contest before crashing out on penalties to the Belarusians in a qualifier and this was another assured display on their travels.

With Stevie May on the bench recovering from a thigh strain, MacLean played a lone striker's role and he did not see much of the ball before the interval as the Swiss side did most of the pressing.

St Johnstone's David Wotherspoon and Luzern's Jerome Thiesson
St Johnstone's David Wotherspoon and Luzern's Jerome Thiesson

Luzern's Jerome Thiesson headed wide and St Johnstone keeper Alan Mannus did well to beat away a fierce shot from Jahmir Hyka.

Schneuwly then thundered a 20-yard strike against the crossbar for the hosts.

The visitors almost stunned Luzern after half an hour when Mackay hooked a boot at David Wotherspoon's free-kick, but the defender failed to beat home keeper David Zibung.

Brian Easton was next to save Saints when he blocked a Remo Freuler effort before the half-time whistle.

The 800 or so St Johnstone fans at the Swissporarena were celebrating on 47 minutes when the home side failed to clear a Saints corner and left MacLean unchecked as he got on the end of Wotherspoon's assist to prod the ball into the net.

The lead would have doubled moments later had Zibung not come to the rescue after Mackay struck another decent effort.

Hyka fired wide as Luzern sought a way back, and Schneuwly did find the net when he was allowed to turn in the box and fire inside Mannus's right-hand post.

Schneuwly and Dario Lezcano both had opportunities for the hosts but St Johnstone held firm to set up an exciting second leg at McDiarmid Parkexternal-link next week.

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