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København make their point

Published: Thursday 14 September 2006, 0.30CET
FC København 0-0 SL Benfica The Danish title-holders earned a point in a goalless draw against Benfica on their UEFA Champions League debut.
by Alex O'Henley
from Copenhagen
Published: Thursday 14 September 2006, 0.30CET

København make their point

FC København 0-0 SL Benfica The Danish title-holders earned a point in a goalless draw against Benfica on their UEFA Champions League debut.

Danish champions FC København marked their UEFA Champions League debut with a goalless draw against last season's quarter-finalists SL Benfica.

Close call
Paulo Jorge came closest to breaking the deadlock for the visitors with 15 minutes remaining when his shot cannoned back off a post, but the hosts held out for their first point in Group F. It was just reward for the sea of white and blue who had greeted both sides as a near capacity 40,000 crowd welcomed the UEFA Champions League to Denmark's national stadium for the first time.

Warm welcome
Coach Ståle Solbakken had promised an uncomfortable evening for the Portuguese giants and, as early as the fourth minute, Luisão needed to be alert to block a shot from Fredrik Berglund after a good cross from Jesper Grønkjær. As expected, the former VfB Stuttgart winger was handed a roving role behind Berglund and his pace caused problems for the Benfica defence in the opening 20 minutes.

Grønkjær blow
However, apart from a couple of half-chances for Michael Gravgaard and a long-range drive from Michael Silberbauer, København had little to show for their efforts and as the half-hour approached Benfica began to enjoy more possession in midfield. With half-time approaching Grønkjær threatened again, surging at the heart of the Eagles' back line before unleashing a shot that drifted just wide. That was to be his last contribution, though, as the recurrence of a groin injury forced his replacement by William Kvist just before the break.

Chance spurned
Moments earlier Benfica had carved out their first opportunity from a Simão corner but Tobias Linderoth smothered the ball at the back post before Luisão could capitalise. Fernando Santos's team continued in a positive vein at the start of the second period without carrying an overt threat. Indeed København hinted louder at the opener when Silberbauer shrugged off the attentions of Léo and fired in an attempt from 25 metres that had Quim scrambling across his line.

Pimpong in
Suitably buoyed, the home crowd found their voice again and on 70 minutes Hjalte Nørregaard showed impressive skill on the edge of the area, dancing past Petit and then Konstantinos Katsouranis before lifting his shot high over the bar. That was the cue for Solbakken to introduce Ghana forward Razak Pimpong for Berglund as FCK pushed for the breakthrough goal.

Late chances
However, almost immediately, Benfica were centimetres away from ending the stalemate when Paulo Jorge turned Brede Hangeland and unleased a powerful strike that crashed back off the post with Jesper Christiansen beaten. Kvist had one last effort which sailed just past Quim's right-hand post, leaving these Group F rivals with a share of the spoils on Matchday 1.

Last updated: 14/09/06 0.09CET

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