Declan McManus targets more European success with The New Saints

The New Saints striker Declan McManus is looking forward to making a quick return to the European stage as the Park Hall side get ready to face Kauno Zalgiris in Lithuania this evening (5pm).

Declan McManus scores a penalty.
Declan McManus scores a penalty.

McManus, who joined Saints from Scottish Championship club Dunfermline Athletic last month, scored the opening goal as TNS beat Glentoran 2-0 in Oswestry last Thursday.

That helped seal an impressive 3-1 aggregate victory for Anthony Limbrick’s side against their opponents from Northern Ireland in the first qualifying round of the Uefa Europa Conference League.

TNS have quickly had to prepare for tonight’s match in Lithuania in the next round - with the return leg to be played at Park Hall on Thursday, July 29.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said McManus. “It’s another new experience for myself and all the lads are buzzing as well.”

McManus was pleased with Saints efforts over both legs against Glentoran as they followed up a 1-1 draw in Belfast by winning the second leg to secure progress.

He said: “It was tough conditions. It was very, very hot and it was hard on your legs, but I think the lads managed the game brilliantly and we’re just delighted to get through to the next round.”

McManus was also pleased to score his first competitive goal for Saints when he converted a first-half penalty.

That was quickly followed by a second goal from Leo Smith, who scored home and away against Glentoran.

On hitting the net from the penalty spot, McManus said: “As a striker you’ve got to back yourself from 12 yards. It’s just you and the keeper, so I back myself every time.”

He added: “It’s a big thing for a striker to get off the mark and get yourself going and I’ve managed to do that.

“Hopefully I can use that wee bit of confidence and kick on and score as many as I possibly can and help the team win things.”

Kauno Zalgiris beat Gibraltar’s Europa FC in the first qualifying round. They finished third in Lithuania’s A Lyga last season.

The winners will play either Czech side Viktoria Plzen or Belarusian outfit Dynamo Brest in the third qualifying round of the Conference League.

Plzen were in the Champions League group stages as recently as 2018/19, losing 2-1 to Real Madrid in the Bernabeu in a campaign that also saw them beat CSKA Moscow and Roma.

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