|Žilina||H. Kiryat Shmona|
Helsingborgs IF were given a stern examination throughout, as they were made to work hard for a UEFA Champions League second qualifying round draw against The New Saints FC at Park Hall.
The Welsh champions had the better of the early exchanges but as time went on the visitors took control. However, some heroics from TNS goalkeeper Paul Harrison ensured the tie remained level for next Wednesday's return in Sweden.
TNS began with intent and optimism as Craig Jones beguiled Helsingborg's back line before clipping the post with a delicate strike from an acute angle. The midfielder came to the fore 16 minutes later, latching on to a loose clearance and thundering an effort narrowly over. Evidently buoyed, the home side were dictating the tempo but found goalkeeper Pär Hansson in inspired form as he pounced to deny Chris Jones' goal-bound shot.
Midfielder Ardian Gashi offered some respite but his fierce effort was deflected wide. Gashi's initiative proved Helsingborg's catalyst as they sought to tighten their grip on proceedings. Livewire Alfred Finnbogason's powerful header was tipped over, before the Icelandic striker almost snatched an unlikely victory when his side-footed effort was superbly tipped round the far post by Harrison.
"TNS are quite good and strong at home," said Helsingborg coach Åge Hareide. "They are a decent footballing side, they score in most of their home games in Europe and have good players. They are no pushover and we will have to be on our guard in the second leg."
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