— The New Saints FC (@tnsfc) July 10, 2018
The New Saints fell to a 5-0 defeat against Macedonian champions KF Shkëndija in the first leg of their Champions League first qualifying round tie.
Izair Emini opened the scoring after just 14 minutes, before Besart Ibraimi proceeded to hit four, including a brilliantly struck free-kick, to compound The Saints’ misery on what was an incredibly disappointing night.
Shkëndija were in the ascendency right from the kick-off. After just four minutes, Stênio Júnior dispossessed Simon Spender down the right hand side, before his cross was blocked for a corner.
A rare foray on goal after 10 minutes resulted in TNS winning a free-kick down the home side’s left. The ball was whipped in by Ryan Brobbel, but unfortunately for him, it evaded everyone and went out for a goal kick.
The home side took the lead just four minutes later. A cross from the right was blocked in the box, but deflected perfectly into the path of Emini who calmly guided it into the bottom left corner.
With 34 minutes on the scoreboard, Jon Routledge was the beneficiary of some good work down the left by Dean Ebbe. The midfielder collected the ball from the Irishman, before testing the keeper at his near post, forcing a corner.
From there on, TNS struggled to contend with the attacking threat the Macedonians posed.
After 38 minutes, Ibraimi picked the ball roughly 10 yards outside the penalty box. Almost to everyone’s surprise, he took a shot which beat Paul Harrison and found the back of the net.
Shkëndija picked up exactly where they left off at the start of the second period.
A chipped effort aimed at the back of the goal was kept out fantastically well by Harrison, who was then on hand once again to keep out the rebound.
But just three minutes later, it was that man Ibraimi involved again. This time he got on the ball inside the box, before unleashing at shot past Harrison, beating him down low at the near post.
Ibraimi completed his hat-trick soon after. Jon Routledge conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box and the Macedonian international needed no second invitation to put a fantastic strike into the top corner.
With the scoreboard showing 65 minutes, he was at it again. After the ball had found him on the edge of the penalty box, Ibraimi curled the ball past Harrison, into the top left corner, grabbing his fourth goal in the process.
It was a tough night all round and one that the TNS players and management will be eager to put out of their minds quickly.
|July 10, 2018||7:15 pm||Champions League||2018 – 2019|
|Philip II Arena|
|Aminta the third 12, Skopje 1000, Macedonia (FYROM)|
|The New Saints FC||0|