UWCL – Brøndby IF (4) 2-2 (2) St. Pölten-Spratzern: Brøndby see of feisty visitors

Hosts twice come from behind to draw and book their spot in next round

UWCL – Brøndby IF (4) 2-2 (2) St. Pölten-Spratzern: Brøndby see of feisty visitors
(Picture: Getty Imags/Lars Ronbog)
Brøndby IF
2 2
St. Pölten
Brøndby IF : Abel, Jans, Boye, Sevecke, Jensen, Nielsen (c), Christiansen (Alful, min. 90+3), Kristiansen (Larsen, min. 86), Veje, Tavlo-Petersson, Sørensen.
St. Pölten: Kresche, Babicky, Pöltl (Rafinha, min. 74), Vágó, Prohaska, Pinther, Bíróová, Zver, Hamidovic, Eder (c) (Dunst, min. 58), Wasser (Kurz, min. 64)
SCORE: 0-1, min. 55, Vágó. 1-1, min. 61, Boye. 1-2, min. 82, Pinther. 2-2, min. 88, Sørensen.
REFEREE: Gyöngyi Gaál (HUN) booked Nielsen, min. 77. Prohaska, min. 78.
INCIDENTS: UEFA Women’s Champions League round of 32 match between Brøndby IF and St. Pölten-Spratzern, held at the Brøndby Stadion, Denmark.

Second-half goals from Simone Boye and Nicoline Sørensen were enough for Brøndby who were made to work for their spot in the last sixteen of the UEFA Women's Champions League by St. Pölten.

Breathless beginnings

Using the momentum from their first leg win, Brøndby hit the ground running and should have been three up on aggregate before the tenth minute when Simone Boye let Isabella Kresche reach a loose ball before her.

Both teams temporarily frantic as the ball lolled around at the top of the box, by the time Boye picked it back up to fire into the empty net the flag had long since gone up against her. Boye involved again seconds later, inadvertently blocking Theresa Nielsen’s lashed effort from distance before St. Pölten countered on the hosts.

After taking their time to work the ball forward, Viktoria Pinther raced onto Alexandra Bíróová’s through ball, slipping around her marker Pinther let fly from the top of the box, Katrine Abel with a superb reaction save to deny her.

The hosts refused two more good chances on the quarter hour, after Nanna Christiansen pounced on a weak back-pass, the crafty attacker opted to go wide instead of cutting in and letting fire, giving the visitors plenty of time to drop back into the box.

Still with the ball, Christiansen rolled it out to Nielsen for the captain to float in to the back post where a leaping Nicoline Sørensen missed her connection by a matter of millimetres.

Goals, goals, goals

Both sides were well up for the match and the fans were treated to an open contest, kept on the edge of their seats throughout as both teams were agonisingly close in a flowing first-half.

But with both defences holding firm and getting in timely blocks it wasn’t until after the break that the game got its’ first goal. After Sørensen had completely misjudged her header to let yet another great chance go begging, Louise Kristiansen got her finish similarly as wrong, connecting with a deep cross but firing clear over the bar.

But the deadlock was finally broken ten minutes after the restart when player-manager Fanni Vágó pounced on a sloppy pass to carry the ball into the box before firing low past Abel into the far corner.

When Sørensen had once more gotten into a fantastic position in the box, indecision let her down once more as in trying to get her feet perfect she gave Kresche plenty of time to jump in and grab the ball from her toe. But her blunder mattered not as Boye restored parity moments later, sticking a foot at Nielsen’s whipped cross to knock the ball between the post and Kresche.

Neither team were willing to give an inch and it made for an exciting contest, the mistakes only adding to the drama as the two hunted for dominance, Pinther drew a low save from Abel before substitute Evelyn Kurz tried to catch the keeper out from distance. But as St. Pölten’s shot tally went up it only seemed like a matter of time before the visitors regained the lead.

A crucial figure throughout, player coach Fanni Vágó, goal and assist were ultimately too little too late for the Austrians
A crucial figure throughout, player coach Fanni Vágó, goal and assist were ultimately too little too late for the Austrians

Following another sloppy error in midfield, Vágó was able to nick the ball off of the sleeping midfielder carrying in through the park under challenge before picking out Pinther with a beautifully weighted ball.

The strike ran onto it before arcing it over Abel from the edge of the box, an absolutely superb finish from the 17 year-old to bring the visitors right back into the game, with eight minutes to find one more goal.

With the visitors doing their best to push up in search of a winner, they were left open and they were once more caught as they had been for the first; Nielsen’s deep cross met by Sørensen on the far side of the box for the attacker to slip the ball between the keeper and the upright at the first time of asking.

Even with a couple of half-hearted efforts from substitute Rafinha, the visitors were too far out of the game and left to go home rueing missed chances from the first-leg. 

Far from smooth sailing

Continuing their sterling form in Europe, Brøndby are in their 14 consecutive season, having featured in all eight seasons to date since the reformatting to the UWCL in 2009-10, the Danes have had a mixed fare.

Reaching the quarter finals in 2011-12 before two disappointing first-round exits to Stabæk and Barcelona they bounced back in 2014-15 to fall at the last hurdle to eventual winners 1. FFC Frankfurt in the semi-final.

Before slipping back to old ways and getting knocked out at the round of 32 to Slavia Praha last season, Per Nielsen will be delighted to have gotten over the first hurdle and will hope his side can find some stability for the next round.