Dundee United have been knocked out of Europe as they suffer a humiliating 7-0 defeat to Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in the second leg of their Europa League qualifier.
The thumping loss equals the heaviest defeat ever for any Scottish side in European competition first set by Hibs against Malmo in 2013 and equalled by Celtic against Barcelona three years later.
Despite a decent start for the Scottish side a complete collapse saw them concede five goals in a brutal 23 minute spell that left them waving goodbye to European football for another season before the half-time whistle had blown.
United went into the game with a 1-0 lead from last week’s first leg at Tannadice and 1300 travelling fans made the trip to the Netherlands in hope of another famous night.
The Tayside club have not won a two-legged tie in Europe since 1997 and the glory days of reaching the UEFA Cup final and European Cup semi-final in the 1980s seem even more of a distant memory after the heavy defeat.
The first leg victory in front gave the new generation of fans a little taste of what success on the continent would feel like and they travelled with hope that their club could rerun last week’s heroics and keep the journey going.
But the dream turned into a nightmare as Alkmaar ran riot and inflicted the humiliating defeat that is the worst for a Scottish side
Last week’s hero Glenn Middleton dropped to the bench to make way for Jamie McGrath and Charlie Mulgrew returned to the defence after being rested at the weekend.
The game was only five minutes old when Alkmaar had the first shot on target when Vangelis Pavlidis latched on to a through ball but his shot was easily saved by Birighitti.
The Greece international scored 25 goals across all competitions last season and United knew they would have their work cut out to keep him quiet for the full 90 minutes.
But the Premiership side showed early signs that they weren’t going to overawed by their Eredivisie hosts and they mixed it well in the opening 15 minutes and even managed to put the AZ goalkeeper under a bit of pressure in a good spell that saw chances nearly fall to both Fletcher and Watt inside the box but the defender managed to clear it for a corner.
After a quick flurry of United possession Alkmaar were back on top and Birighitti was called in to action again just before a defensive block was to thank for keeping it 0-0 at the home side won two corners in quick succession.
And the dam finally broke on the 21st minute when Pavlidis put the ball in the net to put the Dutch side 1-0 up on the night and cancel out Middleton’s first leg winner.
But United weren’t ready to feel sorry for themselves or press the panic button just yet and again took the game to the hosts with Harkes coming close to getting the equaliser with a spectacular scissor kick around five minutes after they fell behind.
Fletcher also had a couple of half chances from crosses put into box as Jack Ross’s side continued to show signs of encouragement that they could cause the defence problems.
But on the half hour mark it was 2-0 when Renders smashed a low drive from outside the box into Birighitti’s bottom corner to put Alkmaar 2-1 up on aggregate.
And the tie was over within a few minutes later when Pavlidis struck again to make it 3-0 on the night and leave United with a mammoth task and realistically looking to avoid a humiliating scoreline.
And the torment continued for the travelling support when number four was quickly followed by number five as the Scottish side completely imploded before the referee blew for half time.
It was all about damage limitation for United but the second half started in the same fashion as AZ went right up the park from kick-off and made it 6-0 and left United facing a record defeat.
With 43 minutes still on the clock the record defeats looked in real danger of being surpassed.
Michael Lahdo then slotted home the seventh to equal the heaviest defeat for any Scottish team in history with 16 minutes still on the clock and AZ seemingly scoring at will.
A late goal line block by Ryan Andrews at least saved Dundee United from taking the unwanted honour all to themselves.
Pavlidis, searching for a hat-trick, nearly made it eight but United were spared further misery by the outside of the post.
But there was little consolation in the night they joined Hibs, who lost 7-0 to Malmo at Easter Road in 2013, and Celtic, who shipped seven at the Nou Camp to Barcelona in Champions League action as Lionel Messi helped himself to a hat-trick, on the list of worst defeats suffered by teams representing Scotland in Europe.
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