Coach Magnus Pehrsson was hailed an instant success at Aalborg BK after masterminding the Danish champions' 3-0 UEFA Cup win against RC Deportivo La Coruña on Wednesday in his first game in charge.
Pehrsson, who took over from caretaker boss Allan Kuhn on 1 January, had never before led a team in European competition, but the 32-year-old Swede immediately proved his worth. His AaB side struck three times in the second half to earn a handsome lead to take to Spain for next week's Round of 32 second leg.
"Tactically he is a fantastic coach," said AaB goalkeeper Karim Zaza, whose team will travel to La Coruna as favourites to go through to face either FC København or Manchester City FC. "His tactics against Deportivo were a total success. The plan was for us to be compact on the pitch in order to keep them from creating chances, and then to work as hard as we could. On top of that, we scored three goals – I bet not many people expected us to do that."
Indeed, Zaza might have expected a busier night with AaB playing their first competitive match since 10 December against an experienced Deportivo lineup featuring former Spanish internationals Mista and Juan Carlos Valerón. However, having kept the Spanish visitors at bay for 45 minutes, the hosts went in front through Anders Due eight minutes after the interval, with the midfielder adding a second on 71 minutes before Michael Jakobsen sealed a comprehensive triumph with a last-minute penalty.
"'Sack the Swede!' I wrote before Pehrsson had even started in the job," wrote respected Danish football journalist Morten Crone Sejersbøl on Thursday after seeing Pehrsson extend AaB's unbeaten run to 13 games in all competitions. "Of course I've changed my mind. It's good that Lynge Jakobsen [AaB's sporting director] doesn't listen to the media." Allan Pedersen, football editor at Ekstra Bladet, agreed. "A masterpiece" was how he described the display, adding: "Seeing a Danish side that has barely come out of its winter sleep humiliate the team in eighth place in the Spanish league is almost too good to be true – but it's a fact."
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