Crusaders hopes are crushed by FC Copenhagen at Seaview

Copenhagan's Federico Santander heads his side into a 1-0 lead against Crusaders
Copenhagan's Federico Santander heads his side into a 1-0 lead against Crusaders

CRUSADERS 0 FC COPENHAGEN 3

Danish champions FC Copenhagen demonstrated their class at Seaview on Wednesday night, putting three goals past a valiant Crusaders side. While Stephen Baxter’s men had a number of chances to register a European goal, Copenhagen controlled the tie, slicing the Irish League champions on a number of occasions.

In truth, there was a clear gap in standard between the professional outfit and the Irish League side. Their passing, fitness and finishing were a cut above what the Hatchetmen had to offer.

Copenhagen will now have one eye on the Champions League group stages, with their place in the Third Qualifying round virtually assured.

In spite of the gap in class, it was Crusaders who had a great chance to open the scoring in the second minute when Richard Clarke’s smart free-kick was headed over the crossbar by Declan Caddell.

The midfielder did well to evade his marking, but he will have been disappointed not to hit the target.

Copenhagen had the lead in the sixth minute.

Domestically, Crusaders are rarely vulnerable from set-pieces, but their Danish visitors caught them cold.

Swedish international Ludwig Augustinsson’s accurate corner-kick picked out Paraguayan forward Federico Santander, who sent a bullet header into the bottom corner.

Caddell had a golden opportunity to equalise in the 35th minute.

A long ball forward to Paul Heatley caused confusion in the København defence.

The ball dropped kindly for Caddell, but the midfielder hit his shot straight into the arms of goalkeeper Robin Olsen, from around eight yards.

Once again, Copenhagen made Crusaders pay for the failure to convert. Peter Ankersen sped down the right-flank, flighting the ball towards the unmarked Adreas Cornelius.

Goalkepeer Sean O’Neill got a hand to the Danish international’s powerful header, but he couldn’t stop the ball from crossing the line.

The visitors continued their dominance in the second half.

It was 3-0 in the 53rd minute. Rasmus Falk strolled through the Crusaders defence before slotting the ball past O’Neill from inside the penalty area.

The Crues had two chances within 30 seconds, on the hour mark.

First Heatley drove the ball across goal forcing Olsen into a smart save.

Copenhagen failed to clear the ball, allowing substitute David Cushley to unleash one of his trademark volleys, that swerved just past the post.

At the other end, Copenhagen had two great chances in the 67th minute.

Santander was denied by an outstretch O’Neill, before Kasper Kusk hit the foot of the post less than a minute later.

Both sides had chances in the final 20 minutes of the game, but neither side could find the net.

CRUSADERS: O’Neill; Burns, Coates, Beverland, McClean; Clarke (Cushley 54), Caddell (Mitchell 61), Snoddy (Gault 74); Whyte, Heatley; Owens

Subs: Dougherty, Carvill, Lowry, Forsythe

FC Copenhagen: Olsen; Ankersen, Johansson, M. Jorgensen, Augustinsson; Kvist (Gregus 59), Falk, Delaney; Kusk (Toutouh 76), Santander (Kadri 73), Cornelius

Subs: Maigaard, Antonsson, Remmer, Amankwaa

Ref: Klossner (Switzerland)