STA, 8 August 2019 - Maribor are in a two-goal hole after the first leg of the third round of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League after losing to Norway's Rosenborg 1:3 at home on Wednesday evening.
The Slovenian football champions are thus looking at a virtually impossible mission of advancing to the last round of the qualifications as they are hosted by Rosenborg in Trondheim next week.
Having struggled in the start of the national championship, Maribor wanted to show their worth in the elite European competition last evening in front of some 10,000 spectators in Ljudski Vrt stadium, but the Norwegians were simply too good.
The guests dominated the first half, which ended without goals, with the first one coming only in the 50th minute, as Alexander Soederlund scored from a free kick almost 30 metres away from the goal.
The same player scored for a 2:0 advantage for Rosenborng in the 64th minute with a header coming after another free kick.
It was the Brazilian veteran Marcos Tavares who scored a goal for Maribor some five minutes later with a strong kick from some 25 metres out, but the guests quickly returned the favour by Mike Jensen scoring for 3:1 virtually on the next play.
Maribor head coach Darko Milanič was disappointed by his team's performance in the first leg of the encounter. "A difficult match is behind us, we didn't shine on the offensive end, but we controlled the match well up until the first goal."
"It's unfortunate that we were below our level at an extremely important match," said the coach, who is believed to be sitting on a hot seat, adding that "there were many mistakes" and that the team's play was "very, very bad".
Maribor are in a bad spot, with the loss to Rosenborg coming on top of poor performances in the national league, in which the defending champions are winless after four rounds, sitting in the penultimate spot in the standings.
The return leg with the Norwegian champions is scheduled for next Tuesday. The overall winner will play in the last round of qualifying with the winner of the Croatian-Hungarian encounter between Dinamo Zagreb and Ferencvaros.