Celtic have the slight advantage in the Europa League last-32 tie against Copenhagen following a 1-1 draw in Denmark.
Odsonne Edouard opened the scoring in the 14th minute, with a vital away goal, and Celtic looked on their way to a win.
However, Dame N’Doye equalised for the hosts just after half-time to ensure the tie remains evenly poised.
Winner: Odsonne Edouard
What a season Odsonne Edouard has been having for Celtic. ‘French Eddie’, as he is affectionately known, has been so important to Neil Lennon’s side as they push for yet another Scottish Premiership title, scoring 20 league goals so far this season.
Unfortunately, he hadn’t been transmitting that form into European competitions, both in Champions League qualifying and the Europa League. It looked to be more of the same for Edouard on the continent as he threw away two big chances inside the opening four minutes, both times having just the goalkeeper to beat.
Odsonne Edouard has now scored 25 goals in all competitions for Celtic this season:
• Scottish Premiership (20)
• Europa League (3)
• Champions League (2)
Brilliant for the Bhoys. ☘ pic.twitter.com/IxtOzdCyLC
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 20, 2020
But, as any good striker does, Edouard did not let the misses get the better of him and 10 minutes later he found himself on the scoresheet with arguably a harder chance. Receiving the ball on the edge of the area, Edouard had some work to do but put Celtic ahead with a well-taken finish, lifting the ball ever so lightly over the goalkeeper and defender attempting the block and into the bottom right corner.
It brought up 25 for the season in all competitions for Edouard but this strike, an away goal, could just be the most important so far.
Loser: Neil Lennon
A 1-1 draw with an away goal is a very good result in European cup competitions, but it could have been so much more for Celtic. After 14 minutes, Neil Lennon’s side were a goal up and looked comfortably only their way to a rare win.
The Bhoys hadn’t won in Denmark since 1983, albeit having played just twice since then — prior to Thursday’s game — losing both and have been poor away from home in Europe.
Since beating Boavista 1-0 in the 2002/03 Uefa Cup semi-final, Celtic have not won any of their 10 knockout stage away games in European competitions, drawing just twice including the stalemate with Copenhagen — which brought their first goal in that run. A positive, yes, but Celtic will be kicking themselves for a missed opportunity.
Winner: Dame N’Doye
In the first half at Parken, Copenhagen were frankly terrible, offering very little in trying to hurt Celtic’s defence. Their only shot of the opening 45 came through full-back Bryan Oviedo, with Dame N’Doye and Michael Santos struggling to make any impact at all. N’Doye, formerly of Hull City, was only noticed when either down after a clash of heads or being penalised for handball.
But something clicked after half-time, with Copenhagen remembering how to attack and it wasn’t long before they were on level terms through N’Doye.
The 34-year-old took his goal well, being played inside the box before beating Fraser Forster with the sheer power of his effort at the near post — no goalkeeper would have had a chance, such was the quality of the shot. It was the goal Copenhagen’s second-half performance deserved and put them back in a good place ahead of the second leg — despite the away goal.
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Winner: Karl-Johan Johnsson
Yes, N’Doye’s goal was the reason Copenhagen are level, but the Danish side wouldn’t be in this tie if it weren’t for Karl-Johan Johnsson.
Although fingers will be pointed at Edouard for his two early misses, credit has to be given to Johnsson for the two excellent saves he made to deny the Frenchman.
Even after being beaten by Edouard, the Swedish goalkeeper was on hand to keep Copenhagen within touching distance of their opponents. In the second half, considerable saves against Edouard again and James Forrest were almost as big as a goal for the home fans, and well-deserving of a draw.
Loser: Parken faithful
Having played so poorly in the first half, the Copenhagen fans will undoubtedly be happy to have drawn level and even gone close to winning the first leg. But it shouldn’t cover what is a dreadful Europa League run.
This season, those following Copenhagen have not been treated to goals in the Europa League, with N’Doye’s strike just their sixth in seven games — lower than any other team to have been in the competition from the group stage.
Those at Parken have been treated even worse, though. In their past eight Europa League home games, excluding qualifiers, Copenhagen have managed just one win, which came in the opening group game against Lugano this term. The other seven matches have brought three draws and four losses.
Their away record this season in the Europa League hasn’t been much better, with just the one win in four — including qualifiers — again coming against Lugano. Not the most promising stats for considering they will need to score in the second leg.
Winner: Fraser Forster
Unlike his counterpart Johnsson, Fraser Forster didn’t have too much to do in Denmark — aside from conceding just after half-time — but when he was called upon, the Englishman came up trumps.
With just over 10 minutes to go, Copenhagen were given the perfect opportunity to take the lead after Ryan Christie was penalised for a handball in the area — the correct decision made after referee Sergei Karasev consulted with VAR.
Fraser Forster has now saved three of the last four penalties he has faced in European club competitions.
A fingertip save to keep Celtic level. 🦸♂️ pic.twitter.com/0aYMMeCFbK
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 20, 2020
Jens Stage stepped up to take the spot-kick and the opportunity to put Copenhagen in the driving seat. But he was not facing any goalkeeper, he was facing Fraser Forster in a European club competition.
The Southampton loanee, with his rather imposing frame, has made a name for himself as being a European penalty expert and it was no different here as he got a fingertip to Stage’s shot, diverting it onto the post and away from goal.