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Catalans forced to settle for a point

Frustrations boiled over at full-time in Denmark as Copenhagen held Barcelona to a 1-1 draw with Catalans' manager Pep Guardiola unhappy at the tough tactics used by the hosts on his stars.

There was an extremely worrying collision on 11 minutes when Victor Valdes stormed out of his area to clear up a chase for the ball between Dame N’Doye and Carles Puyol, but the 'keeper leapt into the challenge knee first and caught the Copenhagen front man in the head.

It was an action reminiscent of Harald Schumacher’s assault on Patrick Battiston in the 1982 World Cup semi-final, but thankfully the consequences were much less severe, as N’Doye managed to get to his feet after a couple of minutes of treatment and was eventually able to continue. The biggest surprise came in the officials’ decision to award a free-kick for offside and no card for the extremely lucky Valdes.

Barcelona’s first true effort could so easily have resulted in a goal on 21 minutes as David Villa sent a shot across Johan Wiland after a wonderful diagonal pass by Lionel Messi, but the Spaniard’s effort came back off the far post. But it took the away side just 10 more minutes to open the scoring.

Seydou Keita got forward and nodded down for Villa, whose flick found Messi behind him, and the Argentine was able to strike home off the inside of the far post from 12 yards. But remarkably they could only hold on to the lead for around 60 seconds.

Almost from the kick-off, Jesper Gronkjaer made good progress down the right, beat Dani Alves and crossed to the far post, with the aid of a hand from Valdes, before Claudemir managed to guide the ball past Eric Abidal and the retreating Valdes to level the scores.

Valdes had to be on his guard moments later to stop Oscar Wendt from putting the Danes ahead with an excellent left-footed drive. Messi then blew a good chance to put the Catalans back ahead after he’d controlled a wonderful chipped pass by Andres Iniesta, but the No.10 saw Wiland rush out and smother well just as he was about to pull the trigger.

In a surprisingly end-to-end second half Messi could again have given Barca the edge, whilst Pospech and Vingaard each fluffed decent openings for the home side. Copenhagen thought they’d taken the lead when N’Doye turned the ball home, but a push had been spotted in the build-up and within 60 seconds Villa was claiming to have been fouled by Mikael Antonsson in the area.

But the best chance of the game came in stoppage time when Pedro cut inside Pospech and sent a shot off the far post with Wiland beaten. Thankfully for Copenhagen, the ball was eventually cleared and they were able to celebrate a worthy draw.

The result leaves Barca top of the group with eight points, while Copenhagen sit second on seven.

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