COPENHAGEN - FC Copenhagen showed how
organisation and controlled aggression can thwart Barcelona's
elegant passing game when they held the La Liga giants to a 1-1
draw in Champions League Group D on Tuesday.
The result on a chilly night in the Danish capital meant
Barca missed a chance to qualify for the last 16 and coach Pep
Guardiola had some uncharacteristically sharp criticism for his
Copenhagen opposite number Stale Solbakken after the game.
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The pair had a spat on the touchline at the final whistle
and the bald-headed Solbakken had to be restrained after Spain
midfielder Sergio Busquets shoved him away from his coach.
Barca's prolific Argentina forward Lionel Messi had put the
visitors ahead in the 31st minute at the Parken Stadion, netting
his fifth of the competition with a rare right-foot shot that
Johan Wiland could only palm on to a post and in.
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The hosts were level a minute later when Wiland's opposite
number Victor Valdes deflected a Jesper Gronkjaer cross into the
path of Claudemir and the midfielder volleyed into the net with
the ball taking a slight deviation off defender Eric Abidal.
Barca came close to securing the win that would have sent
them through when substitute Pedro hit the post with a curled
effort from the corner of the penalty area in stoppage-time.
They top the group on eight points and Copenhagen are second
on seven with four of six matches played. Rubin Kazan and
Panathinaikos, who drew 0-0 in Russia, have three and two
Bad blood had boiled up between the two sides after Barca
goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto tricked Copenhagen player Cesar
Santin into believing he was offside in their match in the
Catalan capital last month.
The Danish champions, who lost the game 2-0, made a formal
complaint to European soccer's governing body UEFA over the
incident and Pinto was banned for two matches.
The normally mild-mannered Guardiola took exception to
comments from Solbakken suggesting Pinto's punishment was not
harsh enough and the dispute spilled on to the pitch at the
"Ask him (Solbakken) what happened, he knows how to
manipulate the media very well," the Barca coach said in a
television interview. "I think he has behaved very badly in this
Buoyed by their vocal fans, a motivated Copenhagen made a
robust start to the game, rocking the 2009 winners back on their
Barca central defender Carles Puyol needed treatment inside
the first minute after he was caught across the face by
Before the Spain international made it back on to the pitch,
Copenhagen midfielder Claudemir smashed a long-range effort off
the outside of the post.
Copenhagen maintained their intensity throughout the match,
preventing Barca from settling into their usual dominant passing
The dangerous Messi had a couple of decent chances to add to
his tally but the home players worked tirelessly to restrict his
space around the centre of the pitch and to close down
playmakers Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Copenhagen striker Dame N'Doye caused problems for the Barca
defence with his pace and strength despite sustaining a
fearful-looking blow to the head in a clash with Valdes in the
Barca's best early chance came in the 22nd minute when
Iniesta sent Spain team-mate David Villa clear.
The striker's angled shot almost beat Wiland but the keeper
got his fingertips to the ball and managed to push it on to a
post and away.
Both sides pressed hard for a winner in the second period
but there were few clear chances and a draw was a fair result
from a highly entertaining match.
"It was a very hard match - they are an extremely physical
side," Barca captain Puyol said in an interview with Spanish
"They equalised very quickly which was unfortunate but I
think we played a good match overall," he added.
"It was our objective to win and we went after the match
from the start as you saw but now we have to look forward to the
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