Randolph retains Champions League belief

Darren Randolph
Darren Randolph remains optimistic ahead of Motherwell's return trip to Greece. Photo: PA

Motherwell goalkeeper Darren Randolph refused to write off his side's Champions League hopes despite a 2-0 first-leg defeat by Panathinaikos at Fir Park.

Motherwell recovered from the setback of losing a free-kick goal from Lazaros Christodoulopoulos after 13 minutes to produce sustained spells of possession and some decent spells of pressure during the third qualifying round opener.

Chris Humphrey came close from long range, Michael Higdon got two powerful headers on target but too straight, Keith Lasley got in behind but shot over, and Nicky Law had a shot brilliantly blocked by Jean-Alain Boumsong.

Henrik Ojamaa had a great chance to play Jamie Murphy clear on the break but kept hold of the ball and moments later Greek substitute Charis Mavrias broke away to net the second goal in the 76th minute.

That goal was harsh on Motherwell and looks to have killed off their chances of reaching the play-offs but Randolph feels they can take confidence from the display.

The Irishman also highlighted an unlikely comeback from three goals down at Tynecastle in May 2011, which came a year after a famous 6-6 draw against Hibernian when Motherwell were four down midway through the second half.

Randolph said: "There have been a few games where we have come from two or three down, for example in the Hearts game where we were 3-0 down at half-time and drew the game 3-3.

"We have it in us to come back. The way we performed and the chances we created gives us great hope for going there next week and getting the result we need."

Randolph was unfortunate to see the first goal curl beyond him after having to move across his goal as Boumsong tried to convert.

But he said: "I thought I would be busier. We knew they would be good from the DVDs we watched.

"But after the display, even though we are disappointed we lost, it gives us more confidence for next Wednesday.

"We weren't out-played. We gave away a silly free-kick, which you can't do in Europe.

"There is still a lot of belief."

Manager Stuart McCall was less optimistic but also will not give up hope ahead of next Wednesday's return leg.

"I'm a realist, it's going to be a huge ask," he said.

"But we have got to be competitive because if we go out of this competition, which looks likely, then we go into the Europa so we have got to look at going away from home in a European tie and setting up to be difficult to beat.

"It's a big ask but if I can clutch at straws, I remember years ago Paul Scholes came here and scored two for England and nobody gave Scotland a chance going down to Wembley.

"Don Hutchison got one goal and there was a bit of a wobble and it looked as though they could have done it."