Wonderful night for Copenhagen
FC Copenhagen defeated Panathinaikos to reach the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.
By Razwan Mirza
Last Updated: 08/12/10 3:49pm
FC Copenhagen held their nerve to become the first Danish side ever to reach the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League following a comfortable 3-1 victory against Panathinaikos in Group D.
Martin Vingaard calmed the nerves with the opening goal of the game at an expectant Parken Stadion before veteran midfielder Jesper Gronkjaer added the second from the penalty spot at the start of the second half.
The victory was completed thanks to an unfortunate own goal from former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse to put the gloss on a wonderful night for Stale Solbakken's side.
The toothless Greeks pulled a late consolation goal back through Cedric Kante's deft header.
Mikael Antonsson and Martin Vingaard started for the Danes after picking up injuries at the weekend as head coach Solbakken set-up his team in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Dame N'Doye returning from a groin injury on the hunt for another goal against his former club.
Sidney Govou was out with illness for the Greeks and Stergos Marinos was given the responsibility of operating down the right after recovering from a calf knock. Luis Garcia started behind Djibril Cisse and playmaker Sotiris Ninis returned at the weekend and made the substitutes bench.
Copenhagen made the brighter start to the game as Vingaard dragged his cross-shot shot just wide of goal with N'Doye sliding in at the back post looking to pick up the pieces.
The hosts had plenty of early possession without really threatening their well drilled opponents in a slow burner of a game but they created their first real opportunity when Cisse's header away from a free-kick was met flush on the half-volley by Christian Bolanos which Alexandros Tzorva watched flash past his near post.
Vingaard had been a threat since the start of the match and he made the breakthrough much to the relief of the home supporters after 26 minutes.
The midfielder, despite playing with an ankle injury, lashed his 25-yard right-foot strike from the edge of the area into the bottom corner past the despairing dive of 'keeper Alexandros Tzorvas.
Copenhagen were soon threatening a second and Claudemir came close as his scooped 30-yarder had Tzorvas scrambling to his left to claw the ball out.
The Greeks rarely threatened but they could have restored parity when Johan Wiland failed to collect a high ball and Stergos Marinos could only fire his shot wide.
Panthinaikos showed their intentions at the start of the second half as 'keeper Johan Wiland was at full stretch to punch clear ahead of the dangerous Marinos.
But their hopes of recording their first win of the campaign quickly evaporated five minutes into the second half.
Nikos Spyropoulos' brought down Gronkjaer and referee Florian Meyer had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The former Chelsea man stepped up to slot the ball into the left hand corner despite Tzorvas' best efforts.
The dangerous N'Doyde could have added a third but was unfortunate as he watched his slide-rule effort strike the base of the post from the angle with Tzorvas in no-man's land.
Copenhagen added their third goal of the game after 73 minutes to seal a spot in the last-16 of the competition thanks to an own goal from Cisse.
The striker got an unfortunate touch as he challenged for the ball at the near post with Mikael Antonsson to leave Tzorvas grasping at thin air.
Panathinaikos restored some pride when Kante headed home a late consolation from an inswinging free-kick but it failed to dampen the atmosphere at the Parken Stadion.Copenhagen finished runners-up to Barcelona who ended Russian side Rubin Kazan's hopes of squeezing through with a 2-0 victory in the Camp Nou.
|FC København||Team Statistics||Panathinaikos|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||3|
|8||Shots off Target||1|