Qualification for the Europa League knockout stage became more difficult last night for FC Copenhagen after they lost 0-2 at home to Stuttgart.
In a match that marked William Kvist’s return to his boyhood club, around 25,000 fans looked on as the Lions attempted to replicate the defensive performance two weeks ago when they drew 0-0 in Germany.
Both sides missed chances early on, but it was Stuttgart who kept their composure, scoring two late goals through Vedad Ibsevic after 76 minutes and Martin Harnik as time expired.
The loss drops FCK into third place in the group, six points behind Romanian leaders Steaua Bucharest, who beat Molde 2-1 in Norway, and one point behind their German conquerors, Stuttgart.
The result means that qualification is no longer in FCK's hands. To advance, the Lions will need to win their remaining fixtures, at home to Steaua and away to Molde, and hope other results go their way.
FCK defender Kris Stadsgaard still has hopes that his team will progress. “It looks tough at the moment, but I think we can still go through. I think we’ll win the last two games,” he told Bold.dk football website.
The disappointing result comes on the heels of FC Nordsjælland’s comprehensive 0-4 thrashing by Juventus on Wednesday night in the Champions League, which all but eliminated FCN’s chances of finishing third in their group and thus booking a place in the last 32 of the Europa League.
FCN face even more formidable odds. In order for FCN to finish third, they must beat Shakhtar Donetsk at home and Chelsea away and hope Juventus lose both their remaining games. Doubtful, one could argue.
The below average performance by Danish teams in Europe this season does not bode well for the 2014-15 season.
Denmark has been passed by Cyprus and Switzerland and currently sits in 15th place in the UEFA coefficient rankings for the 2014-15 season and they desperately need FCK and FCN to pick up some points in their remaining games. To have the opportunity to move back to 13th place, FCK must progress from their group and FCN must pick up a point or two and hope that Switzerland’s two teams left in Europa League, Young Boys and FC Basel, both fail to progress. Cyprus has no teams that can progress thanks to AEK Limassol’s poor placing.
Next up for FCK is Molde away on November 22, while FCN host Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk two days earlier on November 20.
Things didn’t get better for Denmark from a refereeing perspective. Danish refereeing team, led by Peter Rasmussen, were lambasted by Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini following his team's 2-2 draw against Ajax Amsterdam in the Champions League, in which the English champions had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the final seconds, just moments after a goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside.
“The ref and linesmen were really poor. There was a clear penalty and, before that, two goals that were incorrectly deemed offside. What did they say after the match? Nothing,” Mancini told BBC.