DAVID SMITH - Friday, November 12, 2010
Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland pushed their way one step closer to a second straight trip to the Danish Cup final while Benny Feilhaber and Aarhus were shown the exit at the hands of visiting Midtjylland.
AGF Aarhus 0 - 1 FC Midtjylland
Benny Feilhaber and Aarhus can now focus solely on their successful league campaign after being dumped out of the Danish Cup on Wednesday night at the hands of Midtjylland.
As the lowest-ranked team left in the competition, Aarhus knew their chances for reaching next year's final were slim, however as the team holding the record for most triumphs in the cup's history, they nevertheless put up a valiant battle against their top-flight counterparts.
With the home crowd behind them, Aarhus certainly had their chances in the early going, with Feilhaber and Graulund both coming close within the first half-hour but failing to capitalize.
It was Midtjylland, however, that would take the lead with six minutes left in the half. A long ball into the box from the Wolves' midfield was headed goalwards by Sylvester Igboun, and while his shot was blocked by Steffen Rassmussen, it fell directly back at the Nigerian's feet to put away for the lead.
Graulund and Feilhaber looked primed to team up for an equalizer in the 53rd minute, however a moment of hesitation by the former gave the Midtjylland defenders time to thwart his pass to the latter and clear the ball away from danger.
Aarhus pushed increasingly as the clock inched closer to their elimination, with a good shot by Graulund saved on the line by Kasper Jensen with seven minutes left.
The whistle finally blew victorious for the visitors, sending Aarhus out of the competition and Midtjylland onto the next round.
Feilhaber and his teammates will next host Babajide Ogunbiyi and Viborg in league action on Sunday.
AC Horsens 0 - 1 FC Nordsjælland
Michael Parkhurst made his return to Nordsjaelland's starting lineup, pairing with Andreas Bjelland in the team's central defense as they held on after an early goal to move onto next spring's Danish Cup semifinal.
After knocking league heavyweights Odense out of the competition two weeks before in a 3-2 thriller, Parkhurst and his teammates were hoping to take care of business against Horsens, who were coming off an even more shocking 4-2 win over undisputed Danish powerhouse Copenhagen.
The heavy wind and rain in Horsens reduced the game to difficult slog in Horsens' CASA Arena, effectively neutralizing the Wild Tigers' usual high-tempo flow to the attack.
Unable to be overly effective with their usual game, they nevertheless took the lead in the 16th minute thanks to taking advantage of a set piece situation.
A long blast from Henrik Kidlentoft lead to a Nordsjaelland corner, and the defender rose high on the resulting set piece from Pierre Bengtsson to head the ball into the net past keeper Søren Jochumsen to put his jubilant team ahead.
The goal gave the visitors momentum, and they came close to increasing the lead on several occasions before the half, however went into the break with the single-goal advantage.
Horsens pushed to restore parity on the scoreboard for the first 30 minutes of the second half, but sloppy finishing and strong defense by the Wild Tigers ultimately left them without anything to show for their efforts.
A flurry of scoring opportunities - all wasted - by both teams over the final five minutes kept the home and visiting audience on the edge of their seats still unsure of the final outcome, but Nordsjaelland held on in the end, moving to the final-four of the cup for the second straight edition.
Parkhurst and his teammates will face Randers FC in next spring's two-legged semifinal, but have plenty of time to rescue their faltering league campaign, which currently sees them near the relegation zone and hosting Lyngby on Sunday.
Chris Rolfe and Marcus Tracy are both injured, with neither participating in Aalborg's 2-0 loss at home to Esbjerg on Wednesday to get knocked out of the Danish Cup.