DAVID SMITH - Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Clarence Goodson and Brøndby were forced to fight back from an early goal on Wednesday, but managed to secure a draw at home against Esbjerg in the first leg of the Danish Cup semifinal.
Brøndby were still riding high from their weekend game, having secured an impressive road victory over Aarhus that bought them to within a point of escaping the league's relegation spots.
With perennial league powerhouse Copenhagen not amongst the four teams remaining in the cup, the real possibility of securing a piece of silverware even in this tumultuous season was surely in the heads of Aurelijus Skarbalius's squad.
Goodson was on the field in the heart of the back line from the opening whistle, and the team took on a more defensive posture despite having the advantage of the home crowd.
This tack hardly paid off, as the visitors notched a deserved opening goal in the 33rd minute. Peter and Jacob Ankersen teamed up to move the ball up the right side, and Youssef connected on a dangerous cross to the near post to give his team the advantage.
Brøndby had troubles on the attacking end, and ended the first half without having put a single shot on frame. Their woes continued after the break, and they were only saved by a questionable call as the clock wound down.
In the 74th minute, Jonas Knudsen got tangled with Samme Oke Akpoveta at the edge of the area, leading the referee to whistle a controversial penalty for the hosts. Brøndby's Jens Stryger Larsen was up to the task on the resulting spot kick, beating keeper Lukas Hradecky to earn the draw.
The teams will face off again on April 18 in the second leg at Esbjerg. In the meantime, Brøndby will turn their attention towards saving their position in the Superliga, beginning with a visit from Midtjylland on Sunday.