The New Saints 0-2 FC Midtjylland: Paul Onuachu scores two headers as Danes gain advantage heading into second leg
Paul Onuachu scored two headers as FC Midtjylland scored two away goals without reply as they head into next week’s leg at the MCH Arena with an advantage.
The Nigerian forward rose highest for both of his goals as the Danish side earned the advantage heading into the second leg, which will take place next Thursday.
The New Saints had their chances in the first half in the Welsh Capital, but couldn’t capitalise as Jess Thorup’s side saw the game out after controlling a large number of proceedings in the second half at the Cardiff City Stadium.
In the early phases, the Danes were quite content with maintaining possession of the ball, without really testing The New Saints backline.
The New Saints then had their first sight of goal as Jamie Mullan put in a smart ball, which found Irish striker Dean Ebbe, but as he attempted to put the ball across the face of the goal, it was put behind for a corner.
Corners were always going to be dangerous situations for The New Saints and they were 1-0 down courtesy of a header from Paul Onuachu as the 6 ft 7 forward bulldozed his effort past Paul Harrison, giving The New Saints goalkeeper absolutely no chance as the Danish giants took the lead in the Welsh Capital.
The New Saints responded swiftly, though – and after a ball in from Aeron Edwards, it caused the Midtjylland back-line a problem, but Ebbe couldn’t quite make the desired contact as the ball went out for a goal-kick.
On 22 minutes, The New Saints had a glorious opening after some beautiful football down the right-hand side, which was started off by full-back, Simon Spender.
Spender played it to Mullan, who played a superb one-two with Ebbe to be fed back through, but Jesper Hansen stood tall as he ensured the Danish side stayed in the lead.
More slick counter-attacking by the Welsh Champions allowed Mullan some space to execute a shot moments after his other chance, but his shot was a tame one as it was comfortably saved by Hansen in the Midtjylland goals.
But that aerial threat of Onuachu was always going to cause them all sorts of problems and from another corner, the Nigerian doubled the visitors lead as he met a corner, which was an in-swinging floated in by Bubacarr Sanneh – and now The New Saints had a mountain to climb.
After engaging and competing for long periods in the first half, the second goal from Midtjylland appeared to knock the stuffing out of Scott Ruscoe’s side as the game approached the half-an-hour mark.
As the second half began, there was more intent from the hosts as Jamie Mullan earned a bit of space out wide, before squaring it into the middle for Aeron Edwards, who struck a shot from distance, but it was always rising as it flew above Harrison’s posts.
In general it was a quiet second-half, with little goalmouth action as Midtjylland controlled proceedings in a professional manner – and as a result, will take a two-goal lead heading into next week’s clash at the MCH Arena, in Denmark.
Man of the Match (Paul Onuachu)
The 6 ft 7 Nigerian striker proved to be the difference as he buried his two goals from corner with ease – his height and power makes him so difficult to contain and he will no doubt be a danger to The New Saints’ backline in the second leg, as well.
(Featured image: Lewis Mitchell)