Sunday 4 December 2016

Stalemate leaves Ranieri's men on brink of qualification

Copenhagen 0 Leicester 0

Mark Ogden

Published 03/11/2016 | 02:30

Leicester City's Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki leave the pitch after securing a point in Copenhagen. Photo: Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic
Leicester City's Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki leave the pitch after securing a point in Copenhagen. Photo: Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic

Leicester City's players had a party the last time they visited Copenhagen, dressing as superheroes on their Christmas do last December, but their return was a case of a delayed hangover and the champagne going flat with this dismal stalemate in Denmark.

  • Go To

Claudio Ranieri's team emerged with a point against FC Copenhagen, which leaves Leicester requiring just one more point from their two remaining group games to qualify for the Champions League knock-out stage, and have still to concede a goal in the competition.

Leicester City's Daniel Amartey, right, and FC Copenhagen's Erik Johansson battle for the ball. (Jens Dresling/Polfoto via AP)
Leicester City's Daniel Amartey, right, and FC Copenhagen's Erik Johansson battle for the ball. (Jens Dresling/Polfoto via AP)

But they surrendered their 100pc record in the Champions League and missed the opportunity secure qualification as group winner by failing to overcome a dogged but limited home team.

Still, had Kasper Schmeichel not produced a world-class save to keep out Andreas Cornelius' 90th-minute header, Leicester would have entered the final two games with some anxiety, with Copenhagen and FC Porto ready to capitalise on any further slips.

Leicester arrived in Denmark sensing that this fixture would prove their most problematic in Group G.

With the trip to Porto in December likely to be a dead rubber for the Premier League champions, Ranieri's team faced up to Copenhagen knowing that a win would secure qualification as group winners for the knock-out stage with two games to spare.

Jeffrey Schlupp is pursued by Copenhagen's Rasmus Falk Jensen. Photo: Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic
Jeffrey Schlupp is pursued by Copenhagen's Rasmus Falk Jensen. Photo: Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic

But the safety net of a home game against Club Brugge later this month perhaps prompted Ranieri to name an unexpected starting line-up, with the likes of Danny Simpson, Shinji Okazaki and Marc Albrighton left on the bench.

Copenhagen needed little encouragement to push for the victory which would give them the edge over Porto in the race to qualify.

Only Real Madrid, who triumphed 2-0 in the Danish capital in December 2013, have taken three points off Copenhagen in the group stages in the Parken Stadium and this fixture came just one day on from the tenth anniversary of the home side's European high point of a 1-0 win over Manchester United in 2006.

Chances were thin on the ground, which was hardly surprising considering Leicester were aiming to extend their shut-out record to four successive Champions League and Copenhagen had gone 427 minutes without conceding at home.

Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel punches a cross clear. Photo: Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic
Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel punches a cross clear. Photo: Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic

The hopelessness in front of goal became almost comical late on when Riyad Mahrez escaped defender Erik Johansson, with the unmarked Jamie Vardy screaming for a pass ten yards to the Algerian's left.

Mahrez laid off the ball, but it hit a Copenhagen defender, Vardy slipped and the chance was gone.

Copenhagen ended the game strongly, with Benjamin Verbic twice going close - Schmeichel and Christian Fuchs combined to keep out a goal-bound effort on 70 minutes - before Cornelius almost struck at the death.

Leicester held on, though, but it was not a night for superheroes. (© Independent News Service)

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri applauds towards the fans at full time. Photo: Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri applauds towards the fans at full time. Photo: Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic

Irish Independent

Read More

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport