Jesper Grønkjær hailed "a massive achievement" after his FC København side held FC Barcelona to a 1-1 home draw which left them better placed than ever to reach the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
Lionel Messi had put the visitors ahead with his fifth Group D goal just after the half-hour, but instead of rolling over the Danish champions responded immediately. Grønkjær led a quick FCK break down the left and, after Víctor Valdés had failed to claim his cross, Claudemir pounced to volley inside the far post. Although either team could have won it, the result kept both clubs calling the shots in the group, which Barcelona lead by a point from København, with third-placed FC Rubin Kazan a further four points adrift.
It's a massive achievement for the club, the fans and all the players," said Grønkjær, no stranger to big occasions after spells with AFC Ajax, Chelsea FC, Club Atlético de Madrid and VfB Stuttgart. "We're in a fantastic position in the group. It's like a dream right now. We've still got two games, of course, but we're aiming for second place. It's fantastic – it's a good feeling."
The 33-year-old put the outcome down to some sterling support from the Parken Stadion faithful and a well-oiled collective display on the pitch. "Like every team in Europe, we want to make our home ground a fortress where we can be unbeaten and where teams come knowing it'll be hard for them," he added. "Of course, when you play against teams like Barcelona it's going to be hard. We're never going to be better than Barcelona, but I think as a team we were fantastic tonight."
Young centre-back Mathias Zanka Jørgensen was one of many players to perform with distinction, but he admitted fearing that all the hosts' hard work would be undone in added time when substitute Pedro Rodríguez unleashed a shot that cannoned back off the inside of a post. "I thought, 'This isn't happening,'" said the 20-year-old. "Sometimes you just can't do anything but pray and, luckily for us, that shot bounced off the post and into play again. We survived the scare."
Victory would have propelled Barcelona into the knockout phase with two matches remaining, yet there was only a limited sense of an opportunity missed in the visitors' ranks. "I think it's a good result," commented left-back Éric Abidal. "It wasn't an easy match. A win would have sent us through, but unfortunately it wasn't to be. It was a game with lots of commitment and lots of chances and we suffered at the end from set pieces and long throws. I think overall the draw was a fair result."
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