THE New Saints were outclassed by NK Rijeka in Croatia, but managed to come away with just a 2-0 defeat after the first leg of their second qualifying round Champions League tie by the Adriatic.
An early goal from the hosts promised a long night ahead from TNS when, in the fifth minute, Josip Misic fired a 20-yard free-kick from a central position past a surprised Paul Harrison.
The Saints' keeper denied Marko Vesovic a second moments later but, despite dominating possession, the Croatians found it difficult to carve open a resolute visiting defence. Dario Zuparic headed over the bar from a Misic corner and Harrison saved with his feet from Mario Gavranovic.
Rijeka went close on the hour when a deflected shot from Misic beat Harrison and flew past the far post, but the pressure finally told on 69 minutes as Stefan Ristovski's inch-perfect pass was turned into the net by sub Florentin Matei.
Home keeper Simon Sluga just got to the ball to deny Scott Quigley, who then blasted a shot wide from a good position but, in added time, Vesovic missed a gilt-edged chance to add a third for the home side.