The New Saints FC 1-3 RSC Anderlecht
Goals from Sacha Kljestan, Jonathan Legear and Matías Suárez have left the Welsh champions with plenty of work to do in the second leg.
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RSC Anderlecht brought The New Saints FC back down to earth with a 3-1 win in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie in Wrexham.
TNS had progressed courtesy of a second-phase win against Bohemian FC, but now face an uphill struggle to extend their campaign when they go to Belgium next week. Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Legear gave Anderlecht a 2-0 lead within 18 minutes and though Craig Jones pulled one back after half-time, Matías Suárez restored Anderlecht's two-goal cushion with 17 minutes remaining.
Indeed, Ariël Jacobs' side had twice gone close six minutes in through Mbark Boussoufa and captain Olivier Deschacht, the latter denied by the bar. They only had to wait only 60 seconds longer to take the lead, though, Suárez pouncing on a defensive lapse and crossing for Kljestan to turn in at the back post. Boussoufa was again in the midst for Anderlecht's second, Legear the man to benefit from a neat interchange of passes to fire in off the woodwork.
Steve Evans and Jones both had chances to pull one back around the half-hour mark but it was not until seven minutes after the break that the Welsh champions did halve their arrears. Scott Ruscoe picked out Jones and the lively winger guided a neat shot inside the near post. The home side's good work was soon undone, however, Suárez heading Legear's free-kick past Paul Harrison to put his side firmly in pole position to reach the play-offs.