Docile Lions crash out of Europe

Despite playing nearly 45 minutes against ten men, a lacklustre performance by FC Copenhagen means that no Danish teams will be involved in European action next spring

All the Danish clubs are out of European contention following a poor performance by FC Copenhagen in the Europa League tonight at a freezing Parken.

The Danes needed to win to have any chance of progressing, but could only manage a 1-1 draw with Romanian outfit Steaua Bucharest, despite playing most of the second half against ten men.

The Lions were expected to have to win by more than two goals after drawing and losing against Bundesliga club Stuttgart and losing away to the Romanians, but after Norwegian side Molde surprisingly beat the German favourites tonight, any win would have done the job.

The just over 15,000 fans who braved the minus temperatures at Parken were rewarded for their dedication by an uninspiring first half by the Danes, who seemed panicky and skittish when in possession.

A weak header was all they could muster on goal, while the Romanians looked dangerous on the break without really being overly threatening.

The second half came alive after a few minutes when Steaua playmaker Christian Tanese was given his marching orders after receiving his second yellow card for diving in the box. But instead of substituting a defender for an attacker, FCK coach Ariel Jacobs procrastinated for another 15 minutes before taking action.

But by then, Steaua had gone ahead following a long-range effort from striker Raul Rusescu that FCK keeper Kim Christensen ought to have saved.

Down by a goal with time running out, the Lions threw everything into attack, but despite young striker Igor Vetokele equalising with a superbly taken header with five minutes to go, the Danes were unable to get the winner that would have taken them through.

After the match, Jacobs voiced his disappointment with his team, and particularly their dismal first half.

“We were not even there in the first 45 minutes. Steaua are a technically strong team and we gave them way too much space. Offensively, we did not use our wings enough,” Jacobs told Ekstra Bladet tabloid. “It got better in the second half and we proved that with the goal we scored.”

With the draw, FCK finished on eight points in the group, three behind winners Steaua and level with Stuttgart, who progress due to a better head-to-head record.

Denmark is now expected to drop further down the UEFA coefficient standings. FC Nordsjælland on Wednesday night in London bowed out of the Champions League, finishing bottom of their group after being hammered 1-6 by Chelsea.

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