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Nordstrand penalty nudges København past Vorskla

FC København 1-0 FC Vorskla Poltava
Morten Nordstrand's penalty ensured that the nervy Danish champions put their UEFA Champions League play-off trauma behind them.

Morten Nordstrand celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot
Morten Nordstrand celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot ©Getty Images

FC København made some amends for their UEFA Champions League play-off exit against FC Viktoria Plzeň as Morten Nordstrand's penalty gave them a 1-0 win against FC Vorskla Poltava in their UEFA Europa League Group B opener at Parken Stadion.

Nerves might have affected Roland Nilsson's men before the break, but the 28-year-old Nordstrand showed none as he coolly finished to the left on 54 minutes. The relief was tangible, but the dam did not burst, and Ukrainian hopefuls Vorskla may ultimately regret that they posed an edgy-looking home side so few problems.

København were jeered off at the interval after failing to sustain their early pressure. Vorskla goalkeeper Serhiy Dolganskiy had looked set for a busy night on his 37th birthday as both Nordstrand and Thomas Delaney were given early sights of goal, before a delicious Christián Bolaños ball invited Dame N'Doye to chase past the last man on 20 minutes. Instead of hitting the target, his shot from a tight angle crept across the face of goal.

Despite that start, Mykola Pavlov's unassuming side quietly picked their way back into contention, sniping stealthily at the home side's supply lines in midfield. They fashioned a half-chance swiped wide by Ahmed Januzi before Pavlo Rebenok's 44th-minute cross ghosted menacingly across the box.

Chastened by those half-time catcalls, København came back to their senses in the second half, Nordstrand scoring from the spot after Johnny Thomsen had been fouled in the box. After that, Vorskla looked lightweight, and for all their deft touches, the nearest they came to a goal was an attempted clearance that cannoned off Christian Grindheim and towards goal with 20 minutes remaining.

Johan Wiland saved that, and Vorskla will regret that they did not give him more to do.

 

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