FC Nordsjælland keep Champions League dream alive

Nikolas Bendtner misses a last minute sitter, as FCN draw 1-1 with Juventus

Nicklas Bendtner could have spared the Old Lady’s blushes in the 87th minute, only to head a golden opportunity wide, allowing Danish side FC Nordsjælland to claim their first point in Champions League football last night at Parken.

Despite enjoying an overall possession superiority and having had more shots at goal (30 total shots compared to FCN's eight), Juventus could only muster a single goal late on, ten minutes from time through super-sub Mirko Vucinic.

FC Norsjælland fully deserved their point and once again proved they can perform on the big stage as they had against Chelsea, despite losing 0-4 at home.

And following the London club's 1-2 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk last night in UKraine, they still have a reasonable chance of finishing second in Group E, although they only have one home game remaining and will realistically need to win at Chelsea to have a chance of advancing.

Juventus may not have performed to their true potential last night, but that’s taking nothing away from the strong performances of FCN, and particularly their goalkeeper Jesper Hansen.

The teamwork and attacking threat of Kasper Lorentzen, Joshua John and Andreas Laudrup constantly tested the Italian defence, as FCN did their best to unsettle their Italian opponents.

And while Mikkel Beckmann did well to lead the attack in his role as the lone striker, his finishing touch failed him, as he tamely fired the ball into Gianluigi Buffon’s arms on several occasions. When his goal eventually came it was from his first clean hit of the night: a freekick pearler into the top corner that Buffon could only flap at, which put FCN ahead in the 50th minute.

Juventus were also guilty of poor finishing throughout the game, although Sebastian Giovinco’s volley really should have put them ahead in the 28th minute had it not been for Hansen’s heroics in goal. Giovinco also had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring just before half-time, after he was put through on goal by Paolo De Ceglie, only to fire into the side netting  of the Danish goal.

FCN’s defence struggled to deal with Andrea Pirlo’s creative passing all night, but once again Ivorian defender Jores Okore impressed, time and time again thwarting Juve in front of goal.

And with ten minutes left on the clock, they finally equalised, leaving the stage set for substitute Bendtner, back on home soil, to complete the Italian comeback. But when the chance came –  free header just ten metres out – he failed to make a meaningful connection and his effort went well wide of the mark.