DAVID SMITH - Thursday, August 8, 2013
Conor O'Brien made his Champions League debut for Nordsjaelland, making a 20-minute cameo after the team was already effectively knocked out of the competition on Wednesday.
Zenit St. Petersburg 5 - 0 FC Nordsjaelland (agg. 6-0)
Already facing an uphill battle after their home-leg loss last week, Nordsjaelland show little fight in their blowout loss to Zenit St. Petersburg.
After missing the last few games for the Wild Tigers, O'Brien saw 20 minutes as a substitute to make his first-ever appearance in European competition.
The Russians were the dominant team from the opening whistle, and needed just 26 minutes to put their stamp on the game. Hulk stormed up the left side played a cross in to a wide-open Roman Shirokov, who made easy work of his low shot for the 1-0 lead.
Nordsjaelland held strong for the remainder of the first half, but saw the floodgates open after the break.
In the 50th minute, Hulk found space on a horizontal run just outside the area to aim a shot to the lower left corner that evaded the keeper for 2-0, then Danny put away a header from close range for the three-goal lead two minutes past the hour mark.
Zenit legend Andrey Arshavin broke free behind the defense in the 68th minute and took one touch before directing his shot under the keeper's grasp for the four-goal lead.
O'Brien was brought into the game three minutes later, just moments before Zenit player Neto was shown a straight red when he blatantly handled the ball in the area.
Unfortunately, the Wild Tigers were unable to capitalize on the subsequent spot kick, with Nicolai Stockholm hitting the post.
O'Brien also saw a shot careen off the woodwork in the dying minutes, and Shirokov added one last exclamation to the game in injury time when he broke through into the right side and blasted a cannon of a shot high into goal for the final 5-0 scoreline.
Now eliminated from the Champions League, Nordsjaelland await the result of Friday's draw to find out their opponent for the playoff round of Europa League qualification.
They are still looking for the first win of the new season, and will have a surprisingly good chance to earn it on Sunday when they host still-winless reigning Superliga champions FC Copenhagen, who have lost all of their games of the new term.
Ben Spencer was not in uniform for Molde in their scoreless draw at Legia Warsaw. The result, combined with a 1-1 draw in Norway one week before, knocked Molde out of the competition on away goals. They will now enter the playoff round of Europa League qualification. Molde winger Josh Gatt is out for several more months due to injury.