A five-goal blitz in the second half from Motherwell eventually eased them into Monday’s draw for the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round.
Glentoran, after a good first half performance, were reduced to 10 men for most of the second and their resistance was eventually worn down by a ruthless Fir park side.
There was a strange backdrop to Motherwell’s 16th European tie at Fir Park, with the rain-sodden streets around the ground eerily quiet in the build up to this first round qualifier.
The Belfast side arrived in North Lanarkshire via a 1-0 win over HB Torshavn last week. The Northern Irishmen, with former ‘Well man Gael Bigirimana in midfield, were hoping to get one over fellow countryman Stephen Robinson.
Motherwell, minus David Turnbull who departed for Celtic just hours before the game, aimed to put their indifferent league form behind them.
Liam Polworth filled the vacancy created by Celtic’s latest acquisition and Liam Grimshaw was restored to right back to allow a flexible back five. Up front Christopher Long was given the nod to partner Callum Lang.
It was hoped that the pace of the home attack would provide a challenge for the Glentoran defence and it took the pair only seven minutes to produce the first threat. Polworth sent Lang though and his pass set up Long but he dragged his low shot across the goal and beyond the post.
Motherwell were controlled in possession but found it difficult to get behind a solid and uncompromising Glentoran defence. The visitors were also quick on the break and posed a few threats to the home goal.
Trevor Carson made his first comfortable save after 20 minutes when Marcus Kane latched onto Declan Gallagher’s headed clearance only to shoot straight at the ‘Well ‘keeper.
At the other end, Lang’s fine run along the goal line ended with Allan Campbell poking the ball just past the post.
On the half hour the Motherwell goal had a narrow escape which would have silenced the recording of ‘Well Bois booming out of the PA system. Bigirimana’s corner picked out Ruaidhri Donnelly at the front of the six yard box and his low header forced Carson into a brilliant block with his feet to keep his goal intact.
The ‘Well players responded to that scare and until half-time buzzed around Dale Coleing’s goal forcing Gibraltar’s national ‘keeper into a couple of saves.
The first arrived when Polworth turned inside the box before firing in a shot which the ‘keeper firmly held.
Then 10 minutes from the break Lang’s drive from 15 yards was palmed away by Coleing at full stretch.
A couple of other attempts in a packed six yard box were deflected over the ‘keeper’s bar as the Fir Park side strived to make the most of their slight advantage but it remained 0-0 at the break.
Although ‘Well restarted on the front foot, with Mark O’Hara firing a free kick into the defensive wall, the Fir Park side were given a one man advantage after 51 minutes. After picking up a yellow in the first for clattering into Ricki Lamie, Seanan McClean was shown a second after catching Stephen O’Donnell.
However, 10-man Glentoran produced the next two chances. Paul O’Neil firing the ball over from eight yards, before another attempt drifted past Carson’s right hand post.
The Belfast side had raised their spirits but were left deflated when ‘Well found the opener after 58 minutes.
Lang worked a neat one-two with O’Donnell at the corner of the box before taking the return ball in his stride to deftly touch it beyond the keeper and into the corner of the goal.
Sherwin was already stripped to come on and he replaced Grimshaw and provide an extra outlet on the left.
Long’s burst down the right and cross for the inrushing Polworth was deflected narrowly behind as the home side stepped up the pressure on Glens’ goal.
With 20 minutes remaining, Tony Watt, a player with genuine European experience, replaced Lang and immediately won a couple of corners. From the second of those Polworth fed the ball back to O’Donnell, who took a look up before striking a superb drive from 35 yards which flew past Coleing.
As the extra man started to take its toll on the visitors Motherwell made their advantage count in the final 15 minutes.
The tireless running Long was almost rewarded but after the ‘keeper parried his powerful angled drive, Polworth nodded the ball into the empty net.
The script was written for Watt’s return to European football and after 77 minutes the former Celtic striker made it 4-0 rolling the ball over the line after Campbell’s shot was blocked.
A drive from O’Hara screamed narrowly over before Lamie’s measured lob bounced off the bar.
Motherwell and Long were not to be denied and three minutes from time the striker’s efforts were rewarded nipping in to beat the ‘keeper and make it 5-0.
Similarly, Glentoran found some consolation for their hard graft when Robbie McDaid slammed a penalty past Carson to round off a second half goal glut.
Motherwell: Carson, Grimshaw (Seedorf), Gallagher, Mugabi, Lamie, O’Donnell (Robinson), O’Hara, Campbell, Polworth, Long, Lang (Watt).