The New Saints were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by SK Slovan Bratislava after a 2-0 defeat in Rhyl last night.
It sealed a 3-0 aggregate loss in the second qualifying round following their 1-0 reverse to the Slovakian champions last week but despite the result, TNS manager Craig Harrison was incredibly proud of his players.
Harrison said, ‘I am very proud of the players and they gave everything they had. We know what we have in the dressing room and that’s the disappointing part. This is my third Champions League campaign and that was the biggest disappointment because the players got themselves into such a fantastic position from the first leg.’
After a creditable 1-0 defeat last week in Bratislava, The Saints went into the second leg with a genuine chance of progressing and the TNS manager said, ‘The reason why we came here and people were saying we had a chance to go through was because of the performance in the away leg. Everyone is gutted, it’s the closest we have been. Legia were a very good team and the game was over after the first leg with three away goals. Helsingborg was a different story because we did well at home and then we were out of the tie after half an hour in the away leg.’
The former Premier League defender added that, ‘This time, all the way through, until they scored their first goal with 15 minutes left we were right in it. The players did themselves and the club proud, we’re disappointed we did not go through as I thought, in the first half, we had momentum. You are talking about best club competition in the world and when you are on top you have to score a goal. We had momentum and that was the opportunity to get a goal.’
SK Slovan Bratislava will now take on FC Sheriff Tiraspol and Harrison said, ‘Slovan Bratislava are a massive club and I don’t want to be too defensive but because the performance away from home was that good we had more expectations.’