Aalborg BK travelled to GNK Dinamo Zagreb and overturned a deficit to make the play-offs, to the delight of coach Kent Nielsen, scorer Anders Jacobsen and the Danish media.
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Not many teams overturn a UEFA Champions League deficit away from home but that was exactly what Aalborg BK did to pip GNK Dinamo Zagreb to the play-offs on Wednesday.
Having lost 1-0 at home in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie, AaB travelled to Croatia and won 2-0, with two goals from two shorts by the 24-year-old forward Anders K Jacobsen – nicknamed 'AK47'. In the middle of the celebrations, however, AaB coach Kent Nielsen kept both feet on the ground, believing his side were actually better last week.
"Football is a strange game from time to time," Nielsen said. "We obviously played better a week ago on home ground. The big difference was efficiency. However, we had a great goalkeeper and the necessary luck. It was hard work, and we did not succeed with much more than that. It was a hard-fought win, but of course we are really happy."
Jacobsen told Nordjyske newspaper: "Maybe I was a bit too eager at the first goal, as I know that I was on the edge of being offside, so I was really happy, when I turned around and saw the linesman keeping his flag down.
"I was really running around in there with the belief that we could score that second goal as well. We has two great opportunities through Kenneth Emil [Petersen] and myself. Fortunately I managed to make it 2-0, and of course it was fantastic to see that ball go in."
The Danish media united in praising AaB's performance, their champions just one tie from a fourth group-stage campaign. "Nothing was allowed to ruin a wonderful Danish football night, where AaB did what many people considered impossible in Zagreb," wrote Ekstrabladet. "In the first half hour AaB were under extreme pressure, but a brilliant Nicolai Larsen in goal made a fantastic effort and must be knocking on the door to the national team.
"At the other end of the pitch does the North Jutland side have another man who knows how to attract attention. At a time when Lukas Spalvis cannot hit the form of his gold rush in the spring, Anders K Jacobsen has taken over instead."