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Kilmarnock earn late win in Europa League qualifier

The Rugby Park side were taking on Connah's Quay in a Europa League qualifier.

Allesio: First game in charge ends in draw.
Allesio: First game in charge ends in draw. SNS

Kilmarnock have defeated Welsh side Connah's Quay 2-1 in their season opener.

Two late goals, the first from the penalty spot, were enough to earn an away win for new manager Angelo Alessio who was making his competitive debut in the Europa League qualifier.

The former Juventus and Chelsea number two, who replaced Scotland manager Steve Clarke in the Rugby Park hot seat, started with new signing Laurent Branescu on the bench.

The Romanian goalkeeper, signed on-loan from Serie A champions Juventus, was named among the substitutes with Jamie Macdonald retaining his place as the number one.

The scoreline remained goalless after a first half that was more notable for a host of heavy challenges particularly on Kilmarnock and Scotland striker Eamonn Brophy who found himself on the deck a handful of times.

Killie, who finished third in the Premiership last season, started with four current Scotland internationals in the team.

Brophy was joined by defenders Stephen O'Donnell, Stuart Findlay and Greg Taylor who were all included in Clarke's first international squad.

In the second-half Kilmarnock struggled to break the deadlock despite having the bulk of possession.

But it was be the Welsh side that took a surprise lead when they went 1-0 up through a Greg Taylor own goal with only 15 minutes left on the clock.

Scotland star Brophy then equalised from the penalty spot on the 82nd minute to give Killie a vital away goal in their quest to reach the next round and a tie against Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade.

Then Stuart Findlay netted a dramatic late winner two minutes into injury time to make the Ayrshire club clear favourites to get through and give the new manager a winning start.

Speaking after the game Alessio felt his players showed character to snatch victory.

The Italian said: "We knew that it would be a tough game and it was. We were ready for this game. After their goal we had a good reaction, a big reaction and in the end we won the game.

"I watched a lot of games last season and I knew these players had great character. Today they showed this because it wasn't easy.

"They played their football in long passes. We play another football. It was difficult because they had 10 players behind the ball all game, but at the end of the game we came to win and we did.

"But this is only the first leg. We have to play another next week. We have to prepare well for the game because we didn't finish it here. I think we can play better."

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