Esbjerg shock their way into the Europa League

Jutland team join FCK as Denmark’s two representatives in Europe as FC Nordsjælland bow out following a loss to the old enemy at home

Esbjerg qualified for the Europa League for the first time in their history last night after they managed to consolidate their first leg win by shocking French club St Etienne in France 1-0 to progress 5-3 on aggregate.

The west-coast Jutlanders had stunned the legendary French team – Michele Platini used to play for them – 4-3 at home, but the French were still heavily favoured to progress.

But Esbjerg played their hearts out and wererewarded in the 73rd minute when Moustafa Sall bundled the ball into his own goal to send the small group of Esbjerg fans into raptures.

Two Danish clubs in Europe
The result held out and the sleepy fishing town will join FC Copenhagen as the only Danish clubs participating in European football this autumn.

“It was nerve-wracking stuff,” Søren Poulsen, the sporting director of Esbjerg, told JV.dk.

"I sat next to one of the St Etienne bosses so I had to compose myself, but it was tough to keep the joy bottled up."

FCK drew Real Madrid, Juventus and Galatasaray yesterday in the Champions League group stage draw.

Tigers put out by pesky Swedes … and a Dane
Despite Esbjerg’s triumph, Denmark will still only have one team participating in the Europa League group stage after FC Nordsjælland failed to deliver at home to Swedish outfit Elfsborg.

Despite securing a valuable 1-1 draw in Sweden, the Tigers were unable to capitalise at home, losing 0-1 through a Mikkel Beckmann strike 20 minutes before full-time.

Beckmann, who played for FCN in last year’s Champions League, put his former club to the sword, heading home from close-range. The victory was bittersweet for the 29-year-old Dane.

“I want to thank the FCN fans for receiving me," Beckmann told Bold.dk. "It was nice to be applauded and I really appreciate that. Thank you and I’m sorry for sending you out."

FCN actually still had a sliver of hope to make the group stage, despite the defeat. Turkish club Fenerbahçe was kicked out of the tournament for match-fixing so there was a draw this morning to find the replacement team from among the qualification losers. FCN was not the lucky club, however.

The Europa League group stage will be drawn today at 13:00, and the draw can be streamed live at UEFA’s website.




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