Anderlecht goal scorer Kljestan challenges TNS striker Craig Jones
Anderlecht overcame The New Saints' resistance to take control of their Champions League qualifying tie as the Belgians secured a 3-1 first leg win.
Sacha Kljestan's seventh minute effort from Matias Suarez's right-wing cross opened the scoring for the European giants at the Racecourse Ground.
Jonathan Legear doubled the lead 11 minutes later with a long-range strike.
Striker Craig Jones gave TNS hope after the break before the impressive Suarez sealed victory for Anderlecht late on.
The Welsh champions hoped to keep the two-time European Cup Winners Cup champions and former Uefa Cup winners out for as long as possible but within 18 minutes TNS were two goals down.
United States international Kljestan broke the deadlock in the third qualifying round first leg with an unmarked strike just moments after captain Olivier Deschacht had hit the crossbar with a 30-yard shot.
And winger Legear's second goal for the Belgian champions put the experienced European regulars in control as his angled strike beat TNS keeper Paul Harrison after clipping the underside of the crossbar.
The Saints were dealt another early blow as they lost left-back Chris Marriott who suffered a knee ligament injury in the 21st minute and he had to be replaced by Tommy Holmes.
But TNS, buoyed by beating Irish champions Bohemians and winning their first European tie in 11 attempts in the previous round, gave themselves hope when Jones volleyed in his second goal in this already memorable European campaign.
Winger Jones made amends for a first-half miss - a close-range header that he put wide - to crack Scott Ruscoe's cross home inside the opening eight minutes of the second-half.
Anderlecht, though, stepped up their performance as five-time Welsh champions TNS sensed a potential European giant-killing.
TNS winger Craig Jones celebrates his consolation against Anderlecht
Anderlecht's Senegalese midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate had a penalty appeal turned down as he was challenged by TNS captain Steve Evans.
But Suarez put the 30-time Belgian champions into the driving seat in this Champions League tie with a third for Anderlecht with 17 minutes remaining.
The Argentine forward was left unmarked to clinically head Legear's free-kick past Harrison from six yards out to give Anderlecht one foot in the Champions League play-off round ahead of the 3 August second-leg in Brussels.
The New Saints: Harrison, Danny Holmes, Marriott (Tommy Holmes, 21), Baker, Evans, Ruscoe, Hogan, Sharp (Darlington, 84), Williams, Jones, Berkeley (Seargeant, 78). Subs not used: McKenna, Wood, Edwards.
Goals: Jones 52.
Anderlecht: Proto, Mazuch (Lecjaks, 83), Deschacht, Biglia, Suarez (De Sutter, 76), Boussoufa, Legear, Kouyate, Kljestan (Kanu, 87), Juhasz, Gillet. Subs not used: Schollen, Chatelle, Marecek, Rnic.
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