KRC Genk's first adventure in the UEFA Champions League came to a disappointing conclusion in the Fenix Stadion as they drew 1-1 with Real Madrid CF to finish bottom of Group C.
No UEFA Cup place
Their failure to secure a first victory means there is no consolation prize of a place in the UEFA Cup. But at least there was the satisfaction of scoring their first goal in the competition on home soil at the third attempt.
That came four minutes from time as Wesley Sonck, who grabbed their only previous goal two weeks ago in Athens, beat César Sánchez to a corner and headed powerfully home.
It cancelled out Tote's first-half effort which saw him decorate his first appearance in the Champions League for two years. Madrid came under pressure during the game but the draw, coupled with AS Roma's failure to win, means they win their Champions League group for a record seventh time.
Only three of Vicente del Bosque's team survived from the defeat against Roma two weeks ago. Raúl González, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane were all rested and apart from Tote, goalkeeper César and Flavio Conceição were also making their seasonal bows in the competition.
Maybe a degree of unfamiliarity explained Madrid's hesitant start as Genk attacked with purpose in the early stages. They should have taken a fourth-minute lead when Igor Tomasic's ball eventually found its way to Sonck. Madrid anticipated the offside flag and stopped; Sonck miscued badly and the opportunity was wasted.
Skoko comes close
Madrid remained on the back foot and when the ball dropped nicely for Josip Skoko there was power behind the shot and César was happy to beat it away.
Moons caught out
Gradually Madrid warmed to their task and began to string a number of passes together, dousing Genk's early fire. Luis Figo started to make an impression and in the 21st minute the Spanish side had the lead. A corner from the left was struck high and won by Francisco Pavón at the far post. Jan Moons, who had come for the ball, was left stranded as Tote slid the ball over the line.
Genk's immediate response saw Mirsad Bešlija raid dangerously down the right. His initial cross rebounded back to him and his follow-up shot was pushed away by César.
The home supporters, so encouraged by the sparkle in Genk's early play, were growing increasingly frustrated. Their team were still creating chances - more half-chances than full-blooded ones - but coming no closer to scoring that elusive first goal.
Kevin Vandenbergh and Skoko were the next to threaten and an outstanding run by defender Didier Zokora raised hopes. Only a desperate block by Roberto Carlos interrupted his dynamic charge just as he produced his shot.
The second half saw Madrid retain control and in the 57th minute Fernando Morientes disappointingly pushed his attempt wide. Just past the hour from Luis Figo's cross his delicate touch only took the ball on to a post.
Sonck almost in again
Genk needed one last push if it was not all to end in tears. Tomasic cursed his luck after seeing a shot deflected wide but then came Sonck's saving moment. He nearly added a second soon after, again getting the better of César, but Iván Helguera headed the ball to safety.
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