FC Copenhagen edge past Rakow in UEFA Champions League playoff. Image Source: IANS News
Warsaw, Aug 23 : FC Copenhagen stands just one step away from the Champions League group stage after securing a 1-0 victory over Rakow Czestochowa in the first leg of the playoffs.
After dispatching Qarabag FK and the Cypriot team Aris Limassol in earlier rounds, Rakow harbored dreams of gracing the Champions League group stage for the first time. However, going into Tuesday’s matchup, the Polish champions were not viewed as the favorites.
It took FC Copenhagen just over eight minutes to break the deadlock. Mohamed Elyounoussi delivered a cross that deflected off Rakow defender Bogdan Racovitan, wrong-footing goalkeeper Adnan Kovacevic at his near post, Xinhua reports.
Rakow looked to respond just two minutes before halftime. Following a pinpoint cross, Janis Papanikolau headed the ball into the net from close quarters, but the goal was subsequently overturned after a VAR review indicated an offside.
Throughout the second half, the visitors anchored their play in defense, while Rakow sought opportunities. In the 66th minute, Sonny Kittel had a golden chance to equalize with a powerful volley, but his shot veered off mark. In the game’s waning moments, striker Lukasz Zwolinski’s attempt was thwarted by the visitors’ Polish goalkeeper, Kamil Grabara, who exhibited stellar form that evening.
Grabara’s efforts ensured his team will carry a 1-0 lead into the second leg, slated for August 30 in Copenhagen, Denmark.