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Callum Davidson hails his St Johnstone players after draw with Galatasaray

Callum Davidson hails his St Johnstone players after draw with Galatasaray
© Reuters
The Europa League third qualifying round first leg ended 1-1 in Istanbul.

St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson hailed his players for rising to the occasion after they held Galatasaray to a 1-1 Europa League draw in Istanbul.

Davidson's incredible initial spell as a manager continued as the double cup winners briefly led in the third qualifying round.

Saints skipper Jason Kerr silenced the Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadium by netting a 58th-minute penalty after the home goalkeeper had been sent off.

The lead only lasted two minutes before Sacha Boey levelled but Stevie May had a shot cleared off the line before Saints survived some late pressure.

The result gives Saints a real chance of making the play-offs, which would secure group stage football, and Davidson hopes the club are allowed a second-leg full house by the local council after Scotland's Covid-19 restrictions are eased on Monday.

Davidson said: "They only had 9,00 fans here but what a noise they made and it probably took our boys a little bit by surprise. With the volume of support, we haven't played in front of that for 18 months, then playing in an occasion like that.

"The heat was so humid as well. For the boys to perform at that level, second competitive game of the season, it's all credit to them.

"I could be critical and say that after we scored, it's a difficult one because although they are a top side and kept the ball well, I thought we could have kept it better and put them under a little bit more pressure.

"But I'm not going to be critical. I said to them there that's probably one of St Johnstone's best results in Europe.

"My first game (as a manager) in European competition, to hold Galatasaray in Istanbul to a 1-1 draw, if you said that to me 18 months ago, I'd have said no chance. I'm very, very proud of everyone involved."

Davidson already had one eye on next Thursday's return leg.

"I'm going to be a little bit downbeat because I want to get through," he said. "We need to make sure we are ready.

"We enjoy performing to that level, I still think we can get better. All we have done, as good a result as it was, is give ourselves a chance.

"It will be great for Scottish people to come and see Galatasaray come and play at McDiarmid and hopefully we can get a full house.

"I have played a couple of times when it's eight or nine thousand and hopefully maybe not just St Johnstone fans, other football fans would maybe enjoy Galatasaray coming to Perth with something to play for."

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St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson celebrates after the match on May 9, 2021
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