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Milinković salvo sends Slovan past TNS

The New Saints FC 0-2 ŠK Slovan Bratislava (agg: 0-3)
Marko Milinković scored twice in the last 16 minutes as the Slovakian team overcame their stubborn Welsh opponents.

Slovan celebrate with their fans after eliminating TNS
Slovan celebrate with their fans after eliminating TNS ©chestertonphotography.co.uk

ŠK Slovan Bratislava earned their place in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round with a 2-0 win against The New Saints FC courtesy of a second-half double from Marko Milinković.

Slovan arrived in Rhyl with a slender one-goal advantage and were made to work for their eventual reward by a spirited and committed performance from the Welsh titleholders. It took until the 74th minute for the capital outfit to make the breakthrough, and the decisive second only arrived with 60 seconds of the 90 remaining. 

Greg Draper almost handed TNS a dream start, but his close-range effort was bravely blocked by goalkeeper Dušan Perniš. TNS enjoyed the better of the play in the opening half, with midfielder Sam Finley the creative link in their more attack-minded formation, but failed to find the crucial goal to level the tie, despite striker Michael Wilde coming close on 23 minutes.

There were chances at the other end, however, with captain Igor Žofčák and defender Erik Čikoš – the goalscorer in the first leg – being denied by the crossbar before half-time. Slovan's quality eventually shone through and it was Milinković who proved the hero, opening the scoring with a drilled shot past Paul Harrison and beating the keeper with a late free-kick.