Claudemir's rapid response to Lionel Messi's first-half opener edged FC København a vital step closer to the UEFA Champions League knockout phase while preventing FC Barcelona from already stamping their ticket.
Fresh from troubling the Spanish champions in a 2-0 Camp Nou loss two weeks ago, FCK again played with commendable belief, setting the early tempo and Claudemir levelling within 60 seconds after Lionel Messi had added to his double in that match. Goalkeeper Johan Wiland also put in an eye-catching shift to keep København four points ahead of next opponents FC Rubin Kazan in second place. One point clear at the summit, Barcelona will hope to seal their progress at Panathinaikos FC on Matchday 5.
Both teams were given a lift before kick-off with the news that section rivals Rubin and Panathinaikos had drawn 0-0 in Russia, and they began with the look of sides feeling at home in the top two places. If that was more surprising coming from the Danish outfit, it was they who nearly registered within three minutes, Claudemir crashing a loose ball against the corner of post and crossbar from 30 metres out.
Martin Vingaard then tested Víctor Valdés directly from successive corners, but Barcelona could not be subdued forever and, with 22 minutes gone, Johan Wiland did excellently to turn a David Villa shot against the woodwork. The København goalkeeper followed up by denying Sergio Busquets from close range but he was powerless to stop Messi as the Argentinian international fired in off the far post after FCK's centre-backs had converged to cut out Seydou Keita's header to Villa but failed to clear.
Instead of wilting, Ståle Solbakken's surged back with defiance, Claudemir volleying low beyond Víctor Valdés after he had let a Jesper Grønkjær cross slip through his fingers. The Barcelona No1 did better to save from Oscar Wendt, yet it was his counterpart who ended the half the busiest, pulling off a trio of stops from Messi.
Wiland continued to impress after the break as well, palming clear an Iniesta effort as his team-mates faded as an attacking force – until Cristián Bolaños screwed wide with 20 minutes remaining. That miss seemed to galvanise his colleagues and they were soon celebrating when Dame N'Doye headed in, only for the striker to be penalised for a foul. N'Doye then had to be shepherded wide after threatening to bury a memorable winner, which is precisely what substitute Pedro Rodríguez nearly provided when he blasted against the post in added time.
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