The New Saints were unable to overcome a 3-1 first leg deficit in their UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round second leg match against Legia Warszawa, despite a good performance.
A sturdy first-half defensive display from The New Saints frustrated their Polish opponents, with the Oswestry based club going into the half-time interval at 0-0.
However, a 53rd minute strike from Wladimer Dvalishvili put the match beyond the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League champions as Legia increased their aggregate lead to 4-1.
Paul Harrison, The New Saints goalkeeper, was called upon throughout the night in front of the vocal home support and he did well to deny a Miroslav Radovi? effort after just 6 minutes.
The Saints responded with a chance of their own in the 11th minute of play when Alex Darlington had a shot on goal, however, he was denied by Legia goalkeeper Dusan Kuciak, who was able to calmly collect the ball.
After the Saints defence blocked Marek Saganowski’s effort in the penalty area, the Welsh team moved the ball into their opponents half of the pitch where Christopher Marriott crossed it into the box for Michael Wilde. The TNS striker dived at the ball but his header went wide of the post.
The Saints somehow survived a 29th minute scare when Dvalishvili first saw his shot deflected over the bar before Dosa Júnior was allowed a free header from the resulting corner kick. Fortunately for the Saints, the Legia player headed his effort wide of Harrison’s left post.
The New Saints were frustrating their hosts and this was evident in the 41st minute when Dominik Furman was limited to a long range effort that the Saints defence watched wide of the goalpost.
In the 48th minute, Legia survived a huge scare when Michael Wilde had a brilliant chance to give TNS the lead, however, he was unable to get enough power on his connection with the ball to find the back of the net.
Five minutes later, the Saints were made to rue that missed opportunity as Radovi? glided a pinpoint pass over the top of the TNS defence to Dvalishvili, who slotted the ball past Harrison for 1-0. This made the aggregate score 4-1 to Legia.
This goal diminished all hope for The New Saints but they refused to capitulate and continued to fight for the rest of the match.
During the 58th minute of play, Christopher Seargeant was able to unleash a shot but Kuciak was equal to the effort and comfortably brought the ball into his possession.
Ten minutes later it nearly got worse for TNS when Furman, who had looked eager to score throughout the match, saw his attempt crash back off the crossbar.
Jamie Mullen thought he was going to equalise in the 73rd minute for TNS when he unleashed a powerful drive that was swerving as it approached the Legia goalmouth. Kuciak looked panicked by the effort but somehow managed to push the ball away to safety.
Furman was having a frustrating evening in front of goal and was denied glory yet again in the 81st minute through some committed TNS defending. It appeared as though the Legia player was set to celebrate scoring a goal, however, Aeron Edwards managed to clear the ball from danger off the goal-line.
This UEFA Champions League match finished 1-0 to Legia with the blow of the referee’s final whistle but despite losing, The New Saints will be encouraged with the performances that they produced over the two legs against an excellent Polish team.