St Johnstone grabbed a place in the Europa League qualifiers for a second year running with a deserved win over SPL runners-up Motherwell.

Saints' Chris Millar had fired against the post before Liam Craig's 25-yard drive beat goalkeeper Lee Hollis after 36 minutes at McDiarmid Park.

Nigel Hasselbaink's fine shot on the turn two minutes after the break doubled St Johnstone's lead.

Saints took third spot because Inverness went down 1-0 at Ross County.

Caley Thistle had started the afternoon in third place, a point ahead of the Perth side, but Terry Butcher's side were leapfrogged as a result of losing the Highland derby.

Nigel Hasselbaink (right) celebrates his goal

Hasselbaink (right) added the second goal as Saints claimed victory over Motherwell

Nicky Law, playing in his final match for Motherwell, tried his luck early on for the visitors, but his hooked effort fell just wide.

Saints thought they had grabbed the opener after seven minutes when Steven MacLean connected with Hasselbaink's pass and sent an angled drive past Hollis, but it was ruled out for offside.

Without the experience of the suspended Frazer Wright in central defence, Saints manager Steve Lomas made three other changes from the side that lost 4-0 away to champions Celtic last time out.

After more than half an hour of undistinguished play on a difficult pitch that required the ball to be changed five times in an attempt to find a true roll, one of the replacements, Millar, went close to breaking the deadlock.

As the ball bobbled inside the Well penalty box, Millar's effort struck the face of a post before being cleared.

The visitors failed to heed the warning, however, and it was not long before Saints went ahead.

Craig, who has already agreed a pre-contract agreement with Scottish Premier League rivals Hibernian, gave the home fans a perfect leaving present.

His eighth goal of the season travelled a long way across the rutted McDiarmid Park turf before nestling in the corner of the net past Hollis.

Motherwell could have levelled on the stroke of half-time, but Alan Mannus saved well from Michael Higdon's header before Henrik Ojamaa blasted the rebound over.

Hollis, starting in place of Darren Randolph - who is poised to leave Fir Park after rejecting a new contract - was beaten again shortly after the interval.

Hasselbaink gathered a low pass into the box by Dave MacKay with his back to goal and his marker, but a swift swivel of his hips and a short backswing later the ball had travelled 15 yards into the corner of the net, with Hollis given no chance.

It was all Saints now and Murray Davidson, another player set to leave McDiarmid Park after rejecting the offer of a new deal, sent an effort against the crossbar.

But two goals were enough to deny Inverness third spot - and a place in Europe - for the first time in their history and send the Perth fans streaming onto the pitch to congratulate their players.

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (6)

St Johnstone

  • 01 Mannus
  • 02 MacKay
  • 03 Davidson
  • 06 Anderson
  • 19 Miller (Scobbie - 81' )
  • 07 Millar
  • 08 Davidson Booked
  • 10 Craig Booked
  • 11 Hasselbaink (Tade - 78' )
  • 17 MacLean
  • 23 Vine (Abeid - 69' )

Substitutes

  • 15 Tuffey
  • 26 Caddis
  • 33 Scobbie
  • 04 Cregg
  • 14 Gwion Edwards
  • 21 Abeid
  • 09 Tade

Motherwell

  • 12 Hollis
  • 03 Hammell
  • 05 Hutchinson
  • 15 Ramsden
  • 19 Kerr
  • 04 Law
  • 14 Lasley
  • 18 Carswell (McHugh - 61' )
  • 08 Ojamaa (Daley - 79' )
  • 09 Higdon
  • 20 McFadden (Higginbotham - 62' )

Substitutes

  • 01 Randolph
  • 26 Francis-Angol
  • 30 Cummins
  • 17 Daley
  • 11 Higginbotham
  • 16 McHugh
  • 29 Erwin
Ref: Mclean
Att: 5,025

Match Stats

Shots

14 7

On target

4 5

Corners

6 4

Fouls

9 9

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +5:03 Full time

Full Time The match has reached full-time.

90:00 +4:35

Corner taken by Nicky Law from the left by-line, save by Alan Mannus.

90:00 +4:10

Kallum Higginbotham takes a shot. Blocked by Chris Millar.

90:00 +2:11

Free kick awarded for a foul by Omar Daley on Mehdi Abeid. Direct free kick taken by Liam Craig.

90:00 +0:37

Short corner worked by Mehdi Abeid.

89:31

Chris Millar concedes a free kick for a foul on Nicky Law. Lee Hollis takes the direct free kick.

86:59

Mehdi Abeid has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.

85:41

Shaun Hutchinson takes a shot. Save made by Alan Mannus.

85:06

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Fraser Kerr by Liam Craig. Nicky Law takes the direct free kick.

82:30

Foul by Robert McHugh on Callum Davidson, free kick awarded. Callum Davidson delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing, Lee Hollis makes a save.

80:17 Substitution

Substitution Thomas Scobbie replaces Gary Miller.

78:10 Substitution

Substitution Omar Daley on for Henrik Ojamaa.

77:47 Substitution

Substitution Gregory Tade on for Nigel Hasselbaink.

77:22

Shot from outside the box by Chris Millar goes wide right of the target.

76:15

Shot by Liam Craig from just outside the area goes over the net.

75:22

Mehdi Abeid takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.

73:50

Corner taken by Liam Craig from the right by-line, Headed from the edge of the area by Steven Anderson goes wide of the left-hand post.

73:32

Mehdi Abeid takes a shot. Lee Hollis makes a save.

73:05

Shot by Murray Davidson.

71:38

Unfair challenge on Murray Davidson by Henrik Ojamaa results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Alan Mannus.

68:17 Substitution

Substitution Mehdi Abeid replaces Rowan Vine.

66:46

Michael Higdon has an effort direct from the free kick.

66:46 Booking

Booking Murray Davidson goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.

66:42

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Robert McHugh by Murray Davidson.

64:37

The assistant referee flags for offside against Rowan Vine. Indirect free kick taken by Lee Hollis.

62:55

Inswinging corner taken by Nicky Law from the left by-line, clearance made by Steven Anderson.

61:13 Substitution

Substitution Kallum Higginbotham on for James McFadden.

60:44 Substitution

Substitution Robert McHugh is brought on as a substitute for Stewart Carswell.

53:07

James McFadden takes a shot. Save made by Alan Mannus.

50:58

Effort from inside the area by David MacKay misses to the left of the goal.

50:20

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Rowan Vine from the left by-line, Michael Higdon manages to make a clearance.

46:22

Assist on the goal came from David MacKay.

46:22 Goal scored

Goal! - Nigel Hasselbaink - St J'stone 2 - 0 Motherwell Nigel Hasselbaink scores a goal from inside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. St Johnstone 2-0 Motherwell.

45:26

Corner taken by Rowan Vine from the left by-line, clearance made by Fraser Kerr.

45:01

The match restarts for the second half.

45:00 +2:10 Half time

Half Time The first half comes to an end.

45:00 +1:31

Effort from deep inside the area by Nicky Law clears the bar.

45:00 +0:40

Corner taken right-footed by Nicky Law, Michael Higdon takes a shot. Save by Alan Mannus.

44:22

Chris Millar takes a shot. Save by Lee Hollis.

40:35

Chris Millar concedes a free kick for a foul on Michael Higdon. Free kick crossed right-footed by Nicky Law from right wing, Gary Miller makes a clearance.

38:31

Stewart Carswell concedes a free kick for a foul on Murray Davidson. Alan Mannus takes the free kick.

35:54 Goal scored

Goal! - Liam Craig - St J'stone 1 - 0 Motherwell Liam Craig scores a goal from long range to the bottom right corner of the goal. St Johnstone 1-0 Motherwell.

34:34

Shot from just outside the box by Murray Davidson misses to the right of the target.

33:44

Corner taken left-footed by Liam Craig, save by Lee Hollis.

33:23

Corner taken by Rowan Vine from the left by-line, Simon Ramsden makes a clearance.

33:03

Shot by Chris Millar from deep inside the penalty area bounces off the post.

31:26

Free kick crossed by Nicky Law.

31:26 Booking

Booking Liam Craig receives a yellow card.

31:21

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Henrik Ojamaa by Liam Craig.

30:25

Effort from the edge of the box by Murray Davidson goes wide of the right-hand upright.

28:17

Keith Lasley challenges Chris Millar unfairly and gives away a free kick. Callum Davidson takes the free kick.

24:29

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on James McFadden by Steven Anderson. Free kick taken by Shaun Hutchinson.

23:09

Henrik Ojamaa gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Callum Davidson. Alan Mannus restarts play with the free kick.

21:29

Shaun Hutchinson concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven MacLean. Direct free kick taken by Liam Craig.

20:55

Steven Anderson fouled by James McFadden, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Alan Mannus.

20:25

Nicky Law takes the outswinging corner, clearance made by Steven MacLean.

17:59

Liam Craig gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James McFadden. James McFadden crosses the ball in from the free kick, Callum Davidson gets a block in.

16:44

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Keith Lasley by Chris Millar. Free kick taken by Simon Ramsden.

14:42

The official flags Michael Higdon offside. Free kick taken by Alan Mannus.

12:43

The ball is swung over by Stevie Hammell, clearance made by Gary Miller.

8:30

Gary Miller produces a cross, save by Lee Hollis.

7:20

Henrik Ojamaa challenges Rowan Vine unfairly and gives away a free kick. Rowan Vine takes the direct free kick.

6:57

Unfair challenge on Simon Ramsden by Nigel Hasselbaink results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Lee Hollis.

6:23

The assistant referee signals for offside against Steven MacLean. Indirect free kick taken by Lee Hollis.

5:07

Nicky Law has an effort at goal from the edge of the box that misses to the right of the target.

3:41

The assistant referee flags for offside against Steven MacLean. Indirect free kick taken by Shaun Hutchinson.

0:00

The match has kicked off.

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