Caley Thistle midfielder Ryan Christie believes Astra’s European know-how was crucial in the Romanian outfit progressing in the Europa League at Inverness’ expense.
The Highlanders were knocked out of the competition in the second qualifying round, with Thursday’s goalless draw in Giurgiu coming after the previous week’s 1-0 defeat at Caledonian Stadium.
Astra gained the lead just 24 minutes into the first leg, courtesy of forward Constantin Budescu’s free kick, subsequently resorting to time-wasting tactics at numerous stages of both legs.
It marked an end to Inverness’ first European campaign in the club’s 21-year history. By contrast, Astra are competing in the Europa League for the third successive season and midfielder Christie believes they used their experience to see out the tie.
Christie said: “It is frustrating because I feel we more than matched them. To not go through is disappointing.
“But the manager was very positive after the game. He told us we’re now going into the first game of the Scottish season and to keep our morale high.
“On the night it just wasn’t to be. We had a few chances and their goalkeeper pulled off a couple of good saves, as our goalkeeper did when the game opened up.
“Being our first experience in Europe it was always going to be hard, especially against a team which – even though we matched Astra football-wise – knew its stuff when it came to European football.
“In some ways maybe that gave Astra the edge over the two ties. Looking back, going there 1-0 down was annoying but, over the two ties, the worst thing is we were probably the better team.
“It was just experience that helped them in the end. Their goalkeeper was willing to take a booking to waste an extra 30 seconds. It’s in their mentality. But some people look at it and say it’s a good way to get through. That’s the kind of experience I’m talking about in these European ties.
“Maybe we’ve got to be a bit more streetwise.”
Christie paid tribute to the Caley Jags supporters who travelled to Romania, with approximately 500 making the trip.
Christie added: “Fair play to them because it’s a lot of money. To see them turn out in the numbers they did was brilliant.
“There were cousins, guys I went to school with, and a lot of people my age over enjoying themselves. It was disappointing we couldn’t give them the win they wanted but they stuck with us and at the end to hear them clapping us was brilliant.”