Odense BK were celebrated around Europe in the 1994/95 UEFA Cup for what came to be known as the 'Miracle in Madrid' as they overturned a 3-2 third round home defeat with a 2-0 win against Real Madrid CF at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Now, new legends are being written about the current OB squad. Henrik Clausen's men followed up a 1-1 home draw against Panathinaikos FC with a 4-3 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round victory in Athens last night, guaranteeing them a place in the group stage of one of this season's UEFA club competitions.
"There is no doubt that this was one of OB's most important results of recent times," said club director Thomas Christensen. "It was an extremely tough challenge in Athens, and to perform the way we did is more than we ever dreamt of."
OB led 1-0 through Andreas Johansson's 12th-minute goal, but trailed 2-1 early in the second half. However, Espen Ruud levelled the scores on the night – putting his side in front on away goals – before further strikes from Bashkim Kadrii and Hans Hendrik Andreassen stymied Panathinaikos, whose third goal five minutes into added time had no effect on the final outcome.
"The key in this game was discipline and not doing anything stupid," said coach Clausen. "It is going well in line with our belief in working hard and being humble. We said ahead of both games that their most powerful weapon was attack while we could do something with their defence. We did that today, but I also think we scored some really good goals."
Kadrii's strike was the one that killed off Panathinaikos, and the 20-year-old midfielder said: "The belief has always been there and we showed in the home game that we could compete with them. That performance gave us confidence for the game down here, but
I never expected us to come here and score four goals."
As they prepare for Friday's play-off draw, OB are certain of at least a place in the UEFA Europa League group stage, but a UEFA Champions League place awaits if they can hold their nerve against another major European side. "It will naturally be very difficult, but we have a chance so we have to have a go," noted Kadrii, who was born in Copenhagen but is of Albanian descent.
One side they are sure not to face in the play-offs is domestic rivals FC København who beat Shamrock Rovers FC 2-0 in Dublin to book their slot. The Danish champions' captain Mathias 'Zanka' Jørgensen took time to give OB their due. "It is fantastic, and I wish them all the best in Europe," he said. "It is a great performance, and now they can look forward to two great matches against a strong team."
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