The New Saints have been knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers in emphatic style by Croatian side Rijeka.
The Welsh Premier League champions headed into the second leg of the second qualifying round tie trailing 2-0, and goals from Florentin Matei, Mario Gavranovic, Alexander Gorgon and Stefan Ristovski put Matjaz Kek’s side out of sight on Tuesday night.
Substitute Adrian Cieslewicz netted a fine consolation for Scott Ruscoe’s spirited hosts in the 69th minute, but Gavranovic bagged his second 10 minutes later and Rijeka were worthy winners – 5-1 on the night and 7-1 on aggregate.
Aeron Edwards fired wide early on at Park Hall, but TNS spent much of the first half on the back foot and defending resolutely.
Their hopes of a comeback were dented four minutes before half-time when Matei, who came off the bench to double Rijeka’s advantage last week, put the visitors ahead.
And, nine minutes into the second period, Gavranovic turned on the edge of the area and lashed a low shot past TNS goalkeeper and captain Paul Harrison.
Gorgon rubbed salt into the Welsh side’s wounds just after the hour mark when he rounded off a fine team move by lashing into the top-left corner.
Ristovski made it 4-0 on the night with another neat finish three minutes later, and, after substitute Cieslewicz had got TNS on the scoreboard with a sweet strike, Gavranovic swiftly made it 5-1.
The margin of victory was a whisker away from being even greater, as Matei’s stoppage-time blast hit the bar.
Rijeka, who ended Dinamo Zagreb’s run of 11 league titles to secure the club’s first championship last term, look likely to play Red Bull Salzburg in the third qualifying round. The Austrian side beat Hibernians 3-0 in the first leg in Malta.