Tigers poached in Ukraine

FC Nordsjælland debuted on the Champions League scene in admirable fashion despite losing, while FC Copenhagen won in the Europa Cup

After landing Chelsea, Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk in their Champions League group, FC Nordsjælland weren’t given much chance of even getting a point out of their six games.

And despite having the lion’s share of possession, the Danish team ended up going down 0-2 to a star-studded Shakhtar Donetsk side in Ukraine on Wednesday night.

FCN coach Kasper Hjulmand had set a strategy that revolved around counter-attacking the offensive-minded Ukrainians, but ended up tasting his own medicine after two counter attacks by Donetsk ended up producing a brace for young Armenian attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

It was an unforgiving welcome to the big time of European football for FCN, who conceded the first goal just before halftime as Mkhitaryan finished off some solid work from Adriano on the wing. It was a bitter goal to concede after FCN had dominated the game in terms of possession, which at times was as high as 60 percent in favour of the Danes.

The second half progressed much in the same vein as the first, but despite having the ball most, FCN were unable to seriously threaten the Ukrainian keeper Andriy Pyatov. And when Mkhitaryan scored his second goal with 15 minutes to spare, there was no way for the Tigers to claw their way back.

But Hjulmand and his squad can hold their chins high after a Champions League debut in which they more than held their own, with especially Enoch Adu, Jores Okore and keeper Jesper Hansen impressing.

“Not one of our players had played in a European group stage before, and we faced the challenge with the calmness that we had hoped for,” Hjulmand told TV3+ following the match. “There were a few errors, but I have to praise the boys for a job well done. Fine margins decided this match.”

Chelsea and Juventus drew 2-2 in the other match in the group, which leaves FCN bottom of the group after the first round. They host Chelsea in the next round, which will take place at FC Copenhagen's home ground, Parken stadium – just like FCN's other two home group games – on October 2 at 20:45 in a match that the bookies heavily favour Chelsea.

FCN's new 'landlords', FCK have also been involved in European action, last night beating Norwegian side Molde 2-1 in their first Europa Cup group stage fixture at home at Parken. Brazilian midfielder Claudemir gave the hosts the lead after 20 minutes, who then relaxed, allowing Molde to get back into the match and equalise through Pape Diouf, who is on loan from FCK, on the stroke of halftime.

FCK pushed forwards in the second half and were rewarded after 74 minutes when young goal-getter Andreas Cornelius handed the Danes all three points.

The win leaves the Lions top of their group after German side Stuttgart could only draw 2-2 at home against Romanian stalwarts Steaua Bucharest. FCK’s next match is away in Romania on October 4.

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