Crusaders hit for six as FC Copenhagen end Euro dream
FC Copenhagen 6-0 Crusaders (Aggregate 9-0)
Having left themselves a lot of work to do from their 3-0 first-leg defeat to FC Copenhagen at Seaview, Crusaders went into last night's return game very much up against it.
But on the night they didn't play that poorly, the hosts' 6-0 winning margin reflecting the class of their Danish counterparts, but not of the Crues' own individual efforts in the Telia Parken Stadium.
The tie as a whole was a foregone conclusion by half-time with Copenhagen two goals to the good, but the second-half confirmed the Danish champions' dominance as they walked over Stephen Baxter's men, eventually settling for a 9-0 aggregate win.
The game began as it was meant to go on with Andreas Cornelius, the former Cardiff City striker, and Andrija Pavlovic missing early opportunities to give Copenhagen the lead.
Pavlovic was unable to guide home Cornelius' cross from the right, but he was on hand to open the scoring in the 16th minute, latching onto a Rasmus Falk pass to bury the ball beyond the reach of Sean O'Neill in the Crues goal.
At that point any hopes of a fairytale comeback from the Danske Bank Premiership champions died a sorry death, but they did still have hope on the night with Michael Carvill inches away from prodding the ball past Danish keeper Stephan Andersen.
But that was as good as it got for the visitors in the first-half as the Danes set about consolidating their lead on the night, and they should have scored midway through the half only for Falk to inexplicably miss the target completely from five yards out.
Where Falk could not succeed, Crusaders' Andrew Mitchell could, the defender nodding into the back of his own net on the stroke of half-time as he attempted to clear from a corner.
Cornelius, playing much better than his ill-fated time in Wales suggested he could, then took just three minutes to open the second-half scoring - O'Neill was powerless to stop the striker's back-post header from bulging the net.
Crusaders, to their credit, kept plugging away and did put the ball in the goal, only for Jordan Forsythe's header to be ruled out for offside in the 50th minute.
From there it was all one-way traffic, Jan Gregus' superb free-kick the pick of the final three goals with Falk also slotting in and Cornelius rounding off his night in style, heading home emphatically from a corner to ensure the difference between the two sides was painfully evident at the final whistle.