A Gyrano Kerk volley saved Utrecht from an embarrassing defeat in the first leg of their Europa League second round qualifier. However, they were still held 1-1 at home by Bosnian side Zrinjski Mostar.

John van den Brom was without first choice strikers Adrian Dalmau and John Cristophe-Bahebeck for his first official game in charge of Utrecht.

Summer signing Justin Lonwijk was preferred over Nick Venema in the attack while Adam Maher and Vaclav Cerny were both handed their debuts.

Gyrano Kerk was lively in the first-half but the two biggest chances fell to Lonwijk, who missed two sitters. The hosts were dominant but they went into the break behind as Miljan Govedarica calmly fired Zrinjski Mostar ahead after coming face to face with David Jensen.

Sander van de Streek was denied the equaliser early in the second half by goalkeeper Ivan Brkic. Just before the hour mark, van den Brom took off Lonwijk for Venema as they desperately looked for an equaliser.

Three minutes after Venema’s introduction the equaliser came but it was Kerk who found it with an outstanding volley.

Utrecht pushed for a winner but Venema missed a massive chance in front of goal in the last few minutes.

A frustrating evening for Utrecht and they must now head to Bosnia next week knowing they cannot afford to miss any chances.

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