FC Copenhagen 0:0 Leicester City
City took a step closer to the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League after a tight 0-0 draw with FC Copenhagen at the Telia Parken Stadium on Wednesday evening.
It wasn’t a great spectacle to warm up the 3,200 travelling City fans on a cold night in Denmark, but most were very happy with a point and a record breaking fourth shut-out.
Claudio Ranieri, with Slimani unavailable, made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 at White Hart Lane, with Hernández, Schlupp and Amartey all starting.
Copenhagen were unbeaten in 28 games in their bearpit of a stadium, and applied some early pressure.
Schmeichel punched a corner clear, and then Ankersen had a shot blocked with City already looking stretched at the back.
They finally managed to break upfield in the 10 minute when Drinkwater had a shot blocked for a corner that came to nothing.
The home side were soon back at their task, Verbic waltzed past Amartey and fired off a shot that Morgan blocked, Kvist hit one wide and Santander struck Schmeichel with an angled effort.
As City struggled to get their game going, Drinkwater was booked in the 22nd minute after being caught in possession and fouling Cornelius.
Two minutes later Huth also saw yellow, for a cyncial foul on Santander, threatening to break through the middle.
The pressure continued as Huth hooked a clearance over his shoulder in the goalmouth with Copenhagen players closing in.
In a rare foray forward Schlupp had a shot on goal but it was deflected comfortably to keeper Olsen.
At the other end, Delaney hit a shot wide from the edge of the area.
City made it to half-time without conceding and after a poor half, things could only get better.
They did, although City’s defence were still busy early in the second half with Fuchs blocking shots from Ankersen and Cornelius.
City got more into the game just before the hour mark: Mahrez sent Drinkwater in down the right, but his low ball across the goal found no takers.
Ankersen then added another shot-off-target to the stats with the home crowd getting frustrated.
See also, Verbic.
Claudio Ranieri made a change with 20 minutes left, bringing Okazaki on for Schlupp.
Augustinsson’s low shot from close in then caused Schmiechel a problem before Fuchs cleared off the line. There was another scare soon afterwards when Delaney’s shot hit Huth and there were huge appeals for a penalty.
Mahrez should have had a least a corner from an Augustinsson challenge in the area, but City weren’t getting much out of the ref.
Vardy then charged down the left and won a corner, which was cleared to the edge of the area, but Drinkwater fired his shot over, on a woeful night for on-target efforts.
In City’s best spell of the game a Fuchs cross was nodded down by Vardy, but it didn’t quite fall for Okazaki.
With Porto leading Brugge in the other Group G game, Copenhagen desperately needed a goal and it almost came in injury time. A Kusk cross from the right was met with a well-directed header from Cornelius. Just as in the first leg, the ball seemed destined for the bottom left hand corner, before Schmeichel got down brilliantly to tip it away. The ball fell for Santander, but he couldn’t wrap his foot round it and missed the target.
The final whistle ended a game that was a disappointing spectacle, but one that had seen City’s unbeaten run extended. Leicester also became the first team in UCL history to keep a clean sheet in each of their first four games in the competition.
Ranieri was full of praise for his Copenhagen-born keeper: “It was a very good save, if they score they win the match.Kasper is fantastic, I have coached a lot of big champions in goal, Kasper is one of these. He has had two perfect seasons. Kasper, this is my second year, has always made good performances. I am very calm when Kasper is in goal. He is strong, assured and commands the defensive line. He is a very good goalkeeper.”
However, it later emerged that Schmeichel faces a lengthy spell on the sidleines after fracturing his hand in the first half of the game.
City now need one point from the last two games to guarantee a place in the knockout stages…
Copenhagen: Olsen, Augustinsson, Johansson, Kvist, Verbic (Kusk 83), Delaney, Cornelius, Santander, Ankersen, Jorgensen, Falk (Toutouh 65). Subs Not Used: Andersen, Hogli, Antonsson, Gregus, Pavlovic.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Hernández, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Amartey, Schlupp (Okazaki 71), Musa, Mahrez, Vardy. Subs Not Used: Zieler, King, Albrighton, Simpson, Gray, Ulloa
Referee: Felix Brych. Attendance: 34,146.