Llanelli 19-26 Perpignan
Llanelli's Heineken Cup dream was shattered at Stradey Park on Friday night as Perpignan secured a quarter-final victory.
Australian fly-half Manny Edmonds produced a virtuoso performance to claim 16 crucial points with his boot to send the French side through.
Perpignan became only the fifth side in the competition's history to win a quarter-final tie away from home.
Llanelli threw everything at their visitors during the closing moments in the hope of booking a third successive semi-final spot.
But Perpignan's determined tackling won the day.
The home side made the worst possible start by conceding a penalty try with just 61 seconds on the clock.
Perpignan full-back Jean-Marc Souverbie was ideally placed to collect his own chip-kick over the tryline only for Scarlets flanker Simon Easterby to tackle him from behind before he could collect the ball.
Video referee Ed Morrison had little option but to award the try; and with a simple conversion in front of the posts, the visitors had an early seven point cushion.
If the expectant Stradey Park crowd had been stunned by the early try, a sense of disbelief and dread soon followed.
Llanelli (13) 19
Cons: S Jones
Pens: S Jones (4)
Perpignan (14) 26
Tries: Penalty, Murphy
Cons: Edmonds (2)
Pens: Edmonds (2)
Drop Goals: Edmonds 2
Inexplicably, Wales flanker Dafydd Jones stamped on a French head in a ruck right under the nose of referee Tony Spreadbury.
The Englishman had no hesitation in showing the youngster a red card. Llanelli were down to 14 men with 70 minutes of the game to play.
Llanelli desperately needed a flash of inspiration to get themselves back in the game - and fly-half Stephen Jones duly obliged.
A few minutes before the sending off, Jones used his boot rather more sensibly to grab his side's first points from a penalty.
Another kick through the posts soon followed to close the gap to a point, and then Jones sliced through the Perpignan defence to create Llanelli's first try.
Prop Martyn Madden was ideally placed on Jones' shoulder when the fly-half was tackled a few yards short of the posts to dive over for his fifth try in Europe this season.
Jones added the simple conversion, and suddenly the advantage had swung dramatically in the home side's favour.
We've been beaten - but not by a better side
Llanelli's Gareth Jenkins
But Perpignan were not about to lie down, and they needed only 10 minutes to make their numerical advantage pay to regain the lead.
Easterby made a try saving tackle to hold up the French forwards after forceful catch a drive from a lineout, but the home pack had no answer from the resulting scrum.
Canadian number eight Phil Murphy encountered little resistance as he powered over for a try off the back of the scrum.
Edmonds converted and then added a penalty shortly after the interval to give his side a four-point lead.
Jones then slotted over his third penalty, but Edmonds matched his accuracy five minutes later to re-establish their advantage.
Scott Quinnell was Llanelli's most dangerous ball carrier
Llanelli director of rugby Gareth Jenkins had signalled the Australian out as the danger man, and Edmunds lived up to his billing with a majestic opportunist drop-goal to open a seven-point cushion.
But Llanelli had their own kicking machine in the shape of Jones, and his fourth penalty once again cut the deficit with 20 minutes to go.
Perpignan then lost their one-man advantage when lock Jerome Thion was sin-binned for stamping.
The Scarlets sensed their chance, but their hopes were dashed when the irresistible Edmonds landed another drop-goal five minutes from time.
Llanelli were camped near the visitors' tryline for the remaining minutes, but heroic French defence kept them at bay.
Llanelli: Barry Davies; Garan Evans, Matthew Watkins, Leigh Davies (capt), Salesi Finau; Stephen Jones, Dwayne Peel; Iestyn Thomas, Robin McBryde, Martyn Madden, Vernon Cooper, Chris Wyatt, Dafydd Jones, Scott Quinnell, Simon Easterby.
Replacements: John Davies, Aled Gravell, Jamie Cudmore, Ian Boobyer, Guy Easterby, Gareth Bowen, Mark Jones.
Perpignan: Jean-Marc Souverbie; Pascal Bomati, Pascal Giordani, Christophe Manas, Frederic Cermeno; Manny Edmonds, Ludovic Loustau; Ranaud Peillard, Michel Konieckiewicz, Nicolas Mas, Jerome Thion, Rimas Alvarez-Kairélis, Gregory Le Corvec, Phil Murphy, Bernard Goutta (capt).
Replacements: Marc Dal Maso, Stephane De Besombes, Christophe Porcu, Lionel Mallier, Jaques Basset, Nicolas Laharrague, Farid Sid.
Referee: Tony Spreadbury (England).