The New Saints FC must climb a mountain to reach the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round after succumbing 3-1 at home against Legia Warszawa.
The home side led at half-time through a Ryan Fraughan goal, but the Polish champions proved too strong and hit back three times after the break to take command of the tie.
Midfielder Fraughan gave Carl Darlington's side the dream start when he struck in unusual fashion after 11 minutes. Getting the ball back from his own short corner, Fraughan whipped in a dangerous ball that deceived Legia keeper Dušan Kuciak to find the back of the net. Buoyed, TNS continued to press and could have had two more goals before the break. Michael Wilde forced Kuciack into a smart low save, and Alex Darlington's angled shot rattled the far post.
It did not take long for the Welsh bubble to burst after the break, though. Two minutes, in fact, was all that Michał Kucharczyk needed to make his mark, the half-time substitute showing great composure to stroke in the equaliser from close range. Ten minutes later, Marek Saganowski's glancing header beat Paul Harrison directly from a thrown-in, and suddenly the hosts were hanging on.
Wilde flashed a smart effort wide in a rare TNS foray forward, but Jakub Kosecki then tightened Legia's grip on the tie. The midfielder twisted and turned before unleashing an unstoppable curling shot past the helpless Harrison to complete a satisfactory evening for Jan Urban's men and leave the Welsh champions with an uphill battle in the return leg.
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