Esbjerg fB now enjoy a five-point cushion in second spot in Group C following a 2-1 victory at IF Elfsborg.
Elfsborg had got the better of another Danish side, FC Nordsjælland, in this season's play-offs, but Esbjerg proved too strong. A header from captain Hans Henrik Andreasen in each half proved sufficient, though Jon Jönsson's fearsome free-kick made for a nervy closing period.
Much of the game may have been punctuated by clear openings for Elfsborg, but it was the visitors who constantly showed a more clinical edge. Jonas Knudsen's cross from the left looked speculative, for example, but Andreasen climbed highest at the back post and headed past Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard.
The hosts' Lasse Nilsson had been far more profligate moments earlier, shooting over after an exquisite first touch. It was not until six minutes before the break that Esbjerg goalkeeper Frederik Rønnow was given his first real test, in fact, saving instinctively with his legs to thwart Johan Larsson's deflected free-kick.
Rønnow was then beaten by Sebastian Holmen's thumping header, but defender Magnus Lekven hooked off the line. Mushaga Bakenga's jinky run nearly resulted in Niels Frederiksen's side doubling their lead, yet he shot wide and Elfsborg were handed a reprieve. They struggled to threaten until the introduction of Mohamed Bangura, however, the Sierra Leone striker going close with a header barely a minute after coming on.
Esbjerg did not require a second warning and looked to have given themselves breathing space when Andreasen headed in Peter Ankersen's flighted free-kick. Their sense of relief did not last long, as Klas Ingesson's team halved the deficit courtesy of Jönsson's emphatic effort only two minutes later.
Bangura and Nilsson both went close to finding an equaliser with headers from corners but were denied by Rønnow and the frame of the goal respectively. Svensson then showed a lack of composure late on as Esbjerg clinched the points.
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