Inverness CT 0-1 Astra Giurgiu
Inverness Caledonian Thistle's first European fixture ended in disappointment despite a spirited performance against Astra Giurgiu.
Against the run of play, the decisive moment came in the first half when Constantin Budescu curled a free-kick past debutant Owain Fon Williams.
Ryan Christie, Greg Tansey and Aaron Doran all threatened for the hosts.
Astra's William fired against the post as they secured a Europa League second qualifying round first leg victory.
Despite the result, John Hughes's side at no point seemed inferior to their opposition but next week's trip to Romania will be that bit more daunting with the Highlanders now needing to score.
Loud bagpipes generated a crescendo of noise prior to kick-off, only bettered by the wall of sound produced by an expectant home crowd desperate to witness the continuation of the dream run their heroes have delivered of late.
Scottish Cup victory and a third-place finish in the Premiership last season had whetted the appetite and many were keen to see how new recruits would fare.
Striker Dani Lopez, defender Nat Wedderburn and keeper Williams all made their debuts as Inverness set about solving the conundrum of whether to attack or focus on keeping a clean sheet.
Christie almost unlocked proceedings with a lovely turn and left-foot effort that was deflected narrowly wide.
However, midway through the opening period Ross Draper was penalised and midfielder Budescu, who had shown flashes of his ability, flashed a shot agonisingly past the despairing Williams, who could only palm the ball high into the net.
The keeper perhaps showed a little too much of his right-hand side to tempt the Astra captain's dipping strike.
Undeterred, Christie continued to express himself and provided a sight of goal for Doran but the busy winger scuffed his shot straight down keeper Silviu Lung Junior's path.
Budescu again showed his threat, gathering and firing a powerful low shot which Williams palmed away from onrushing opponents.
Lopez's attempts to make an impact were perhaps ill-advised as the Spaniard came deep repeatedly but struggled to influence the action.
Chances became rare but Williams, who was signed hours before kick-off, provided a scare when he just got the ball away after taking one too many touches to control a pass-back.
Danny Williams's long-range strike narrowly missed the bar, which sparked the home crowd back into life in the second half.
Christie's thrusting run slipped Doran in and his first-time bouncing effort at pace was flicked over by Lung.
Budescu's influence almost killed the tie with a beautiful pass that released William, who seemed casual from close range and struck the outside of the post when a goal seemed inevitable.
Frustration grew as the visitors seemed to develop a fragility in every challenge that provided convenient interruptions.
Doran was unsuccessful with two further efforts but Astra did a competent job of taking the sting out of the match as time ticked away.
It was not the first European tie Inverness Caledonian Thistle wished for but there remains an opportunity to make history in Romania if they can overturn their deficit.
- 25Fon Williams
- 6MeekingsBooked at 63minsSubstituted forRavenat 80'minutes
- 8DraperSubstituted forRobertsat 81'minutesBooked at 87mins
- 7Lopez RoblesSubstituted forForanat 84'minutes
- 1Lung Jr.
- 84QueirósBooked at 88mins
- 25GamanSubstituted forOrosat 47'minutes
- 13Morais Júnior
- 9EnacheSubstituted forStanat 71'minutes
- 10BudescuBooked at 38minsSubstituted forFloreaat 82'minutes
- 91de Amorim
- Ken Henry Johnsen
- Shots on Target