December 6, 2012
Draw sends Bucharest through
Steaua Bucharest shrugged off the 49th-minute dismissal of Cristian Tanase to claim the point they needed to reach the Europa League knockout stages with a 1-1 draw at FC Copenhagen.
The Danes had gone into the game knowing victory by either 1-0 or a two-goal margin would be enough to send them through to the next round, and possibly eliminate Steaua depending on the other Group E result.
They went into the game on the back of five straight wins in the Danish Superliga plus a tight Europa League victory in Molde last month, which had given them hope of avoiding elimination.
But Steaua, who looked to be coasting home as group winners before a shock 5-1 home hammering by Stuttgart last time out, were also in good heart after a 6-0 weekend win away to Concordia Chiajna in the Romania Liga I.
In a dismal first period the Danes' attacking hopes were stifled by a resolute Steaua back line and the only chance of note came when Steaua's Raul Rusescu hit a speculative 30-yard effort over the bar after 24 minutes.
Tanase received his first booking for a foul on Rurik Gislason in the 32nd minute, although Copenhagen striker Ragnar Sigurdsson was unable to make any inroads from the resulting free-kick.
When Tanase was dismissed for a second bookable offence three minutes after the break, Copenhagen might have fancied their chances, and came close when Igor Vetokele headed into the arms of Ciprian Tatarusanu after 68 minutes.
Andreas Cornelius also forced a save out of Tatarusanu from a cross by Pierre Bengtsson in the 70th minute, but instead it was Steaua who snatched the lead two minutes later when Rusescu rammed home the opener from 20 yards.
Facing a huge task, Copenhagen threw men forward and equalised four minutes from time when Vetokele met a cross from the right by Lars Jacobsen and headed home from 12 yards.
Knowing one more goal could still make a difference, the Danes kept pressing and Nicolai Jorgensen might have sent them through in injury time when he sent his shot from the left side of the box blazing over the bar.