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Brøndby give themselves Sporting chance

Brøndby IF added another famous European night to the collection at Sporting Clube de Portugal, but Jan Kristiansen says it will count for little if they fail to claim a group-stage spot.

Jan Kristiansen set Brøndby on their way in Lisbon
Jan Kristiansen set Brøndby on their way in Lisbon ©Getty Images

While the Danish press announced that "Brøndby IF are back" after Thursday's 2-0 victory away to Sporting Clube de Portugal in the UEFA Europa League play-offs, the Copenhagen outfit are already looking ahead to the second leg.

"Everyone gave a terrific performance. We fought for each and every ball, so this is a triumph for the whole team," said midfielder Jan Kristiansen, who broke the deadlock just before half-time, with Ousman Jallow adding a second soon after the restart. "However, we will have to be 100% focused on the second leg next Thursday. Sporting will have to attack, and maybe we can benefit from that to score more goals. That would be great."

Kristiansen's cautious optimism was echoed by coach Henrik Jensen, who admitted he had arrived in Portugal expecting a draw at best and warned that Sporting will be giving "all they have got" in the return match. Indeed, Paulo Sérgio, on the opposition bench, believes his side can still claim a group-stage place. "We will go to Denmark looking to qualify," he said, "and I reckon we can. We created enough tonight to leave me thinking we can turn this tie around.

"Everything went wrong," Sérgio added. "With the goals we had three or four chances to stop the opponent in midfield, we didn't and we conceded. Defeats always affect a team's confidence, but with hard work and character we can get the fans back onside. We were positive and created chances. We could have scored, but there were some stupid mistakes and a few things that have to change."

Not for Brøndby, though, who had Denmark's media purring, drawing parallels with past triumphs over the likes of Eintracht Frankfurt and Liverpool FC. "Brøndby have given Danish football one breathtaking European drama after another down the years – and after a break that has been way too long, another one was added to the collection," said newspaper Ekstra Bladet. "In Lisbon it was Brøndby at their best – a genuine performance delivered by real men, where no one was above the team, where everyone gave 100%."