Can Saints avoid Champions League exit at the hands of Europa?
All eyes will be on Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints this evening, as they look to overturn a 2-1 first leg defeat to Europa and progress to the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round.
The New Saints were drawn against Gibraltar champions Europa as the higher seed, but goals from Alex Quillo and Enrique Gomez Bernal gave the away side a first leg victory despite a stunning half volley from Scott Quigley.
TNS’ performance left a lot to be desired, as the Saints struggled to pass the ball with the pacy and organised style the club has become synonymous with.
Speaking to the Welsh Premier League‘s official website, TNS’ boss Scott Ruscoe said:
“We didn’t pass the ball well, we looked a bit nervous in possession, we weren’t free-flowing, but they backed up and played on the counter – which we knew they would do – and they were very dangerous in that regard, that’s how they’ve scored as well because we gave up possession, they broke on us and ended up scoring two goals.”
The second leg qualifier match will be held at Estadio Algarve in Portugal, due to Europa FC’s Victoria Stadium not meeting UEFA regulations.
KO is at 18:30 local time. pic.twitter.com/pSw797gbyz
— Europa FC (@EuropaFC_Gib) July 4, 2017
TNS have travelled to Portugal without injured Chris Marriott and Chris Sargeant, who has stayed behind after being involved a car accident.
The Saints are looking to avoid exiting the Champions League at the first round qualifier stage for the first time since 2009 when Iceland’s Fram Reykjavik defeated them 4-2 on aggregate.
Excited about the game. The players will give their maximum, we can ask for no more, what a group of players to be involved with @tnsfc
— Scott Ruscoe (@Ruscoe77) July 4, 2017
Either TNS or Europa will face HNK Rijeka of Croatia in the second round qualifiers on Tuesday the 11th and 18th of July.
Featured Image: C Correa Photography