The New Saints suffered defeat in Croatia against HNK Rijeka but they will return home for the second-leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie with the game still in the balance.
HNK Rijeka 2-0 The New Saints
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
- Second Qualifying Round first-leg
- Tuesday, 11 July 2017
- Stadion HNK Rijeka, Rijeka
An otherwise excellent first half performance from TNS was hampered as the result of a free-kick scored by the home side’s Josip Misic after just four minutes.
Rijeka adopted an aggressive pressing game early-on, meaning TNS were penned in at times with very little room between their defensive and midfield lines, but the Welsh Premier League Champions did very well to keep their shape and play their way out of trouble.
The New Saints showed strong communication, good positional awareness as they regularly frustrated the Croatian champions; particularly having gone behind so early on in this tie.
The second half saw more Rijeka pressure, however, once again The New Saints grew into the game.
Rijeka were forced to change their tactics and their approach against a TNS side who simply didn’t give up throughout the encounter, however, substitute Matei doubled the home side’s advantage in the 69th minute.
The 2-0 deficit brought about The New Saints’ best football of the night as Scott Quigley created two good opportunities.
The first being a header through from Adrian Cieslewicz that Rijeka looked to have swept up, before the last defender hesitated and allowed Quigley in, but the keeper was alert and smothered the striker’s effort.
The second came five minutes from full-time, when Quigley broke into the box from the left-hand side and smashed an effort into the side-netting.
The New Saints will aim to overturn this first-leg deficit in the return leg at Park Hall on Tuesday, 18 July at 7:00pm.