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Hutchinson's Euro hope . . .

THE disappointment of losing narrowly to Celtic is likely to be shrugged off quickly by a Motherwell side that has history within its grasp.

Stuart McCall's team, who are in the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup, are also in the running to claim a Champions League qualifying place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Second place is not beyond them but finishing third, given that Rangers may struggle to meet the SFA's deadline for European qualification, may be enough for the Fir Park side.

Shaun Hutchinson, the Motherwell defender, was reticent post-match about discussing the prospects of the Champions League. "We're not looking too much at second at the moment," he said. "If it was to happen, it would be unbelievable but at the moment finishing third is all we're going for."

The 21-year-old blamed a lack of concentration for the loss of the goal to Gary Hooper but added: "It's good for our confidence knowing we have matched Celtic from start to finish."

Motherwell have been strengthened by the addition of Henrik Ojamaa who sparkled intermittently on Saturday but was also cautioned for simulation.

"He doesn't give any centre half a second on the ball," said Hutchinson of the Estonian forward. "He's a very willing runner and will run the channels all day.

"It's building up as such a good season," said Hutchinson. He remembers last year's Scottish Cup final, when Motherwell lost 3-0 to Celtic at Hampden, as "probably the biggest day of my life."

There may be severe competition to that title in the months ahead.

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