The New Saints 0 FC Midtjylland 2

UEFA Europa League Third Qualifying Round

The New Saints face an uphill battle to qualify for the play-off round of the Europa League after two first-half sucker punches from Paul Onuachu put Midtjylland in control after the first leg. 

Scott Ruscoe's men had more of the possession and chances in a tight clash at the Cardiff City Stadium, but it was the Danes who proved to be more ruthless.

Within the first five minutes, Saints had forced a free-kick in the far right-hand side following Aeron Edwards’s hard work, resulting in a corner which was cleared.

But the Danes took the lead in comfortable fashion in the ninth minute when Onuachu powered home a header from a corner when unmarked.

The goal put paid to Ruscoe’s game plan as Saints were forced to abandon a defensive shape for a goal and moments later, they nearly struck back as the recalled Dean Ebbe could only flick Jon Routledge’s cross wide of the post.

On 23 minutes, there was superb interchange play between Ebbe and Jamie Mullan, with the latter testing Jesper Hansen with a cross-cum-shot as Saints looked dangerous.

Two minutes later, Chris Marriott's storming run at the Danes saw the ball eventually fall to Mullan, but it was behind him and he could only fire weakly.

However, the Danes doubled their lead moments later against the run of play as Onuachu steered home from six yards out as Saints failed to deal with their Midtjylland's prowess yet again.

And it stayed that way at the break as the Saints faced a mountain to climb. 

Ruscoe made no changes at the break as TNS searched for a way back into the tie.

Edwards had the first sighter for Saints in the second half but his shot, after Mullan broke, was high and wide. 

Midtjylland made a double substitution on the hour to freshen their hold on the game, and Ruscoe followed suit with the introduction of Adrian Cieslewicz for Ebbe.

TNS were not short of effort, both on the pitch and off, with the noisy following giving the Green and Whites plenty of support.

Kurtis Byrne was introduced with just over 10 minutes left on the clock, hoping to pinch a goal to keep the tie alive.

Ruscoe surprisningly turned to Josh Nembhard for his last change as he replaced Danny Redmond with six minutes to go. 

Paul Harrison was on-hand to keep Saints in the tie with a strong low left-handed save seconds after the change as TNS switched off. 

But TNS will head to Denmark next week knowing they will need two goals and a ckean sheet to stand a chance of progressing from to the play-off round. 

TNS: Harrison, Spender, Marriott, Hudson, Cabango, Routledge, Holland (Byrne 79), Edwards, Mullan, Ebbe (Cieslewicz 69), Redmond (Nembhard 84) Subs not used: Robert, Seargeant, Draper, Clark