Motherwell face an immense task to reach the Europa League group stage following a home defeat by Levante.

Juanlu punished the Scots for defensive hesitancy to slide home the opener three minutes before the break.

And, despite a period of Motherwell pressure, substitute Nabil El Zhar lashed in a second after the break.

The Steelmen rarely tested Levante keeper Keylor Navas and the red card for Shaun Hutchinson in 76 minutes only added to the disappointment.

The opening 15 minutes had raised expectations among the home support that they could prosper against the men from Valencia, who were playing in their first European match thanks to their sixth-place finish in La Liga last term.

Winger Chris Humphrey won his first race against the Levante left-back David Navarro and on the other flank Jamie Murphy showed early promise.

Navarro's sluggish start continued when he fluffed a clearance, allowing Humphrey to gain possession and cut into the box. With Michael Higdon yelling for a cutback, Humphrey opted to toe-poke the ball at Navas's goal and the chance was gone.

A flashing Navarro header from a corner ought to have alerted Well to the threat of an away goal being conceded.

But despite Motherwell's bright start, it was Levante who had the first shot on target, a piercing drive by Michel from 20 yards that Darren Randolph punched clear.

And that sense that the Spaniards had found their rhythm was heightened when Higdon first failed to clear a cross and then was wrong-footed when the ball was set up for Michel, who shot a yard or so wide from the edge of the box.

Nikolaos Karabelas limped off towards the end of the half after a thumping 50-50 challenge with Adam Cummins had left him in agony on the turf.

Few things can match the loss of an away goal for the sense of doom that it engenders.

That Motherwell should concede one just three minutes before the interval only deepened the gloom for their fans.

The home defence hesitated when Christian Lell's cross from the right came in, apparently assuming that Theofanis Gekas would be flagged offside.

Instead, he strayed back towards his own goal, while Juanlu moved in from an onside position, picked up the ball and gave Randolph no chance with his shot.

After the break, Randolph raced from his goal-line to deny Gekas after the Greek had collected Juanlu's deft pass at the edge of the box and quickly unleashed his shot.

A good spell for Motherwell followed, the highlights of which were Henrik Ojamaa's skewed shot wide from inside the box and Humphrey's inviting cross along the six-yard box which had Higdon scrambling for a back-post connection.

The band of 150 travelling fans were in raptures, though, in 62 minutes when Lell sneaked past Stevie Hammell and crossed for El Zhar to slam a shot high past Randolph.

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall sent on Robert McHugh and Fraser Kerr for Henrik Ojamaa and Chris Humphrey to try to effect a change in their fortunes.

But Motherwell's European challenge all but ended when Hutchinson was sent off for hauling down Gekas on the edge of the box as he bore down on goal.

Only Randolph's ability to change direction in mid air prevented Jose Barkero's deflected free-kick producing a third for Levante.

Motherwell's trip to Valencia in a week's time could scarcely be more daunting.

Lineup, Bookings (6) & Substitutions (6)

Motherwell

  • 01 Randolph
  • 03 Hammell
  • 05 Hutchinson Dismissed
  • 30 Cummins
  • 04 Law (Carswell - 86' )
  • 06 Hateley Booked
  • 07 Humphrey (McHugh - 68' )
  • 14 Lasley Booked
  • 08 Ojamaa (Kerr - 68' )
  • 09 Higdon
  • 11 Murphy

Substitutes

  • 12 Hollis
  • 19 Kerr
  • 26 Francis-Angol
  • 17 Daley
  • 18 Carswell
  • 27 Hetherington
  • 16 McHugh

Levante

  • 13 Navas
  • 04 Navarro
  • 15 Karabelas (El Zhar - 40' Booked )
  • 18 Ballesteros Booked
  • 19 Pedro Lopez
  • 22 Lell
  • 07 Barkero
  • 20 Gomez Juanlu (Oscar Serrano - 76' )
  • 21 Herrero Michel Booked (Pallardo - 66' )
  • 10 Vicente Iborra
  • 17 Gekas

Substitutes

  • 01 Munua
  • 05 Rodas Hector
  • 06 Pallardo
  • 11 Oscar Serrano
  • 08 El Zhar
  • 09 Rodriguez Angel
Ref: Antti Munukka
Att: 6,286

Match Stats

Shots

5 13

On target

2 8

Corners

1 5

Fouls

11 9

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +2:11 Full time

Full Time The final whistle is blown by the referee.

90:00 +1:32

Foul by Rodriguez Oscar Serrano on Keith Lasley, free kick awarded. Keith Lasley takes the direct free kick.

88:57

Effort on goal by Nabil El Zhar from 20 yards. Save made by Darren Randolph.

86:19

Rodriguez Oscar Serrano takes a shot. Keith Lasley gets a block in. Jose Barkero takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Michael Higdon.

85:04 Substitution

Substitution Stewart Carswell joins the action as a substitute, replacing Nicky Law.

83:08

Rodriguez Oscar Serrano takes a shot. Save made by Darren Randolph.

80:54

Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Higdon on Jose Barkero. Jose Barkero takes the free kick.

79:10

Vicente Iborra takes the direct free kick.

79:10 Booking

Booking Tom Hateley receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

79:00

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Miguel Pallardo by Tom Hateley.

78:39

Jose Barkero takes a outswinging corner.

76:29

Jose Barkero shoots direct from the free kick, Keith Lasley gets a block in.

76:29 Dismissal

Dismissal Shaun Hutchinson receives a red card for professional foul.

76:00

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Theofanis Gekas by Shaun Hutchinson.

75:09 Substitution

Substitution (Levante) makes a substitution, with Rodriguez Oscar Serrano coming on for Gomez Juanlu.

74:51

Fraser Kerr delivers the ball, Keylor Navas makes a save.

74:26

Tom Hateley takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Sergio Ballesteros.

71:56

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stevie Hammell by Nabil El Zhar. Stevie Hammell takes the direct free kick.

71:56 Booking

Booking Sergio Ballesteros receives a caution for dissent.

69:23

David Navarro challenges Robert McHugh unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Tom Hateley from right channel.

67:29 Substitution

Substitution Robert McHugh on for Chris Humphrey.

67:29 Substitution

Substitution Fraser Kerr replaces Henrik Ojamaa.

65:10 Substitution

Substitution Miguel Pallardo comes on in place of Herrero Michel.

65:10

Effort from inside the area by Nabil El Zhar misses to the left of the goal.

63:58

Michael Higdon is caught offside. Keylor Navas takes the indirect free kick.

61:23

Christian Lell provided the assist for the goal.

61:23 Goal scored

Goal! - Nabil El Zhar - Motherwell 0 - 2 Levante Nabil El Zhar scores a goal from inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Motherwell 0-2 Levante.

59:12

Centre by Keith Lasley, Christian Lell gets a block in.

58:07

Shot from just outside the area by Henrik Ojamaa goes over the bar.

55:57

Henrik Ojamaa takes a shot. Munoz Pedro Lopez gets a block in. Effort from the edge of the box by Henrik Ojamaa goes wide of the left-hand upright.

53:54

Foul by Gomez Juanlu on Tom Hateley, free kick awarded. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Tom Hateley, clearance made by Sergio Ballesteros.

53:37

Tom Hateley produces a cross, clearance made by Sergio Ballesteros. The ball is swung over by Tom Hateley, David Navarro manages to make a clearance.

50:56

Stevie Hammell restarts play with the free kick.

50:56 Booking

Booking Booking for Nabil El Zhar.

50:44

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Adam Cummins by Nabil El Zhar.

49:57

The ball is crossed by Chris Humphrey, Sergio Ballesteros manages to make a clearance.

47:42

Unfair challenge on Sergio Ballesteros by Henrik Ojamaa results in a free kick. Keylor Navas takes the free kick.

45:18

David Navarro challenges Michael Higdon unfairly and gives away a free kick. Tom Hateley shoots direct from the free kick.

45:01

The game restarts for the second half.

45:00 +2:22 Half time

Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.

44:45

Stevie Hammell concedes a free kick for a foul on Sergio Ballesteros. Sergio Ballesteros takes the direct free kick.

41:20

The assist for the goal came from Christian Lell.

41:20 Goal scored

Goal! - Gomez Juanlu - Motherwell 0 - 1 Levante A goal is scored by Gomez Juanlu from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Motherwell 0-1 Levante.

40:24

Sergio Ballesteros fouled by Michael Higdon, the ref awards a free kick. Keylor Navas restarts play with the free kick.

39:38 Substitution

Substitution Nabil El Zhar joins the action as a substitute, replacing Nikos Karabelas.

34:06

Corner taken by Jose Barkero.

33:07

Nikos Karabelas restarts play with the free kick.

33:07 Booking

Booking Caution for Herrero Michel.

32:51

Unfair challenge on Herrero Michel by Tom Hateley results in a free kick.

32:19

Vicente Iborra challenges Keith Lasley unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Shaun Hutchinson.

30:50

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Herrero Michel by Adam Cummins. Jose Barkero restarts play with the free kick.

24:03

Jose Barkero restarts play with the free kick. The assistant referee flags for offside against David Navarro. Darren Randolph takes the indirect free kick.

24:03 Booking

Booking Keith Lasley is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

23:55

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gomez Juanlu by Keith Lasley.

23:01

Gomez Juanlu challenges Henrik Ojamaa unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Shaun Hutchinson.

22:17

Foul by Michael Higdon on Vicente Iborra, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Keylor Navas.

21:43

Effort from inside the area by Herrero Michel misses to the right of the goal.

21:08

Corner taken by Jose Barkero.

19:37

Gomez Juanlu crosses the ball, Close range effort by Munoz Pedro Lopez misses to the left of the target.

18:14

Shot by Herrero Michel. Save by Darren Randolph. The official flags Michael Higdon offside. Free kick taken by Jose Barkero.

17:35

The ball is sent over by Jamie Murphy, clearance by Sergio Ballesteros. Shot from just outside the box by Tom Hateley misses to the left of the goal.

16:01

Gomez Juanlu crosses the ball, clearance made by Shaun Hutchinson. Vicente Iborra takes a shot. Comfortable save by Darren Randolph.

13:50

Centre by Tom Hateley, clearance made by Sergio Ballesteros.

11:37

Corner taken by Herrero Michel from the right by-line played to the near post, Header from deep inside the area by David Navarro goes harmlessly over the crossbar.

9:56

Nikos Karabelas sends in a cross, Adam Cummins makes a clearance.

8:34

The ball is delivered by Tom Hateley, comfortable save by Keylor Navas.

7:56

Chris Humphrey produces a cross, Keylor Navas manages to make a clearance.

6:42

The ball is delivered by Jamie Murphy, clearance made by David Navarro. Henrik Ojamaa handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Free kick taken by Keylor Navas.

3:30

Michael Higdon fouled by Vicente Iborra, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Tom Hateley.

2:56

Close range effort by Theofanis Gekas misses to the left of the goal.

2:14

The ball is sent over by Chris Humphrey.

1:46

Free kick awarded for a foul by Shaun Hutchinson on Theofanis Gekas. Herrero Michel takes the direct free kick.

0:00

The referee starts the match.

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