Sunday, 25 September 2011

Hvidovre IF 2 v 2 Aarhus GF

(Aarhus win 9-8 on penalties)
Tuesday 20th September 2011
Danish Cup 3rd Round
Hvidovre Stadion, Copenhagen
Admission: 50 DKK
Programme: Free with admission
Attendance: 1,119
Match Rating: 4

Back in Denmark for this evening's football fix and an interesting looking clash in the Danish Cup, with a David versus Goliath clash, a top tier Superliga team - who, as fate would have it, I had watched win at Koge only three days previously - visiting a third tier team, with the ingredients in place for a potential giantkilling.

The Hvidovre Stadium is certainly one of the easier to find, taking an S-train from central Copenhagen to Friheden station - which takes around 20 minutes, and just as the train pulls into the station, the stadium's floodlights become visible closeby, and the stadium is just a couple of minutes along a straight main road from the station. Apparently unusually in Denmark, admission was simply paid on admission to the ground. I mistakingly found myself having entered the visitor's section, which was not ideal, as a natural supporter of the underdog, and the section was confined to one small part of the ground, the other three quarters of the ground one could freely roam. However, the visitor's large and vocal support persuaded me to retain my place in their section. For a third tier club, the Hvidovre Stadion is rather impresive. It contains a large all-seater stand along one length of the pitch, about a quarter of which was assigned to Aarhus fans tonight, with five rows of uncovered benches circulating around the rest of the ground. Once again, a running track circulated the pitch, ensuring poor views of the action from behind either goal. Surprisingly given the lowly status of the club, the programme produced, which was given out free on admission, was the best throughout my hopping in Denmark, containing 16 pages in colour, with what looked like interesting articles, not that I could understand them.

Tonight's match would be between two teams who met in the league last season, before going in opposite directions - Aarhus upwards to the Superliga as champions, Hvidovre down to Division 2 East, finish last and 10 points adrift of safety in last season's Division 1.Unsurprisingly, Aarhus did the double over Hvidovre last season, winning 3-0 in April in Hvidovre, and 7-1 earlier in the season in Aarhus. Hvidovre have made a good start to this season though, winning six and drawing the other of their seven games so far, and have had comfortable 1-5 away victories in both of their previous Danish Cup ties to get to this round.

One would have predicted a comfortable away win, however the cat was set amongst the pigeons with just seven minutes on the clock, when the ball broke free allowing Jonas Rasmussen a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and he cooly slotted the ball into the net to give the underdogs an unexpected lead. It was quickly becoming apparent that this would be an even contest, and only slowly did Aarhus begin to threaten, and on 17 minutes they came close to scoring when an awful corner broke for a long range shot which the keeper could only block, and then had to make a point blank save to deny the follow up shot. On 27 minutes, Aarhus were back on level terms though, when a player cut in from the right and unleashed a shot which the keeper could only parry to Aron Johansson, who slotted home from about 8 yards. One felt that the chances of a shock were waning and that Aarhus would now control the game, however slighlty against the run of play, Hvidovre amazingly went back into the lead, when a well worked move left Soren Weibel with a one-on-one, and he showed good composure in slotting past the keeper. And so it was Hvidovre who held the advantage after a surprisingly well balanced first half, with no apparent gulf between the two sides.

Aarhus unsurprisingly started to take control of proceedings, although they rarely really threated Hvidovre's goal, although on 53 minutes, they had a shot blocked on the line. On 67 minutes, they equalised for a second time, when a looping cross was headed into the net by Soren Larsen from close range. Although Aarhus by now looked the likely winners, on 77 minutes Hvidovre had a great chance to score when a forward just beat the keeper to a header, but the ball dropped agonisingly just wide of the goal. In the last ten minutes, Hvidovre's goal led quite a charmed life with at least five shots going very narrowly wide or over, but 2-2 was the score after 90 minutes, a terrific achievement for Hvidovre. So the game headed into extra time, and although both sides had fantastic chances to win ihe tie - Hvidovre in particular looking very tired, there was no further scoring throughout extra time and so the game headed to a penalty shoot-out. With Aarhus taking the first penalty, the first 17 penalties were converted, mostly excellently, a couple only just squirming through the keeper's dive, until Hvidovre's Marco Ziegler's penalty struck the crossbar to cause heartbreak for the home side and ensure Aarhus's passage into the nexr round - expected, but boy were they made to work hard for it....

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