WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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THE New Saints bowed out of the Champions League after a 3-0 defeat to Cypriot outfit APOEL in Nicosia.

Forced onto the back foot for much of the game, TNS defended well but were indebted to keeper Paul Harrison and the woodwork on two occasions for keeping the score respectable, as well as keeper Paul Harrison.

Brazilian Vander hit the crossbar six minutes before the break and Pieros Sotirou's Ronaldo-style backheel did not quite come off a couple of minutes later.

APOEL went close on the stroke of half time when Nektarios Alexandrou crossed from the left and Sotiriou's bullet header was somehow cleared off the line by Phil Baker, making a record 31st start by a Welsh Premier player in Europe.

APOEL attacked with some venom after the break and Harrison was at full stretch to punch away a 25-yarder from George Efrem. But shortly afterwards, a cross from Vinicius was cleared only as far as Alexandrou, who fired into the corner from the edge of the box to open the home side's account.

Nuno Morais headed just wide from a corner and, after Simon Spender had seen a shot blocked in a rare TNS attack, Sotiriou hit the woodwork after cleverly creating an opening.

Another Sotiriou back heel drifted just wide before Harrison made an excellent one-handed save from Efrem.

But the pressure told again on 73 minutes when Alexandrou's cross was well-controlled by Sotiriou who then volleyed home from close range to effectively end the visitors' hopes.

Deep into stoppage time the hosts added a third when Tomas De Vincenti extracted revenge from the penalty spot after sub Steven Saunders had brought him down.