Football: Laudrup's Chelsea goal is achieved

FC Copenhagen 0 Chelsea 1 Chelsea win 2-1 on aggregate
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The Independent Online
BRIAN LAUDRUP, who is likely to leave Chelsea for his native Copenhagen next week, was both hero and villain in the Danish National Stadium last night, though to which set of supporters was never quite clear.

Warmly received initially by the home crowd, Laudrup then scored the goal that put their team out of the European Cup-Winners' Cup. It was his first for Chelsea, a small section of whose supporters, clearly believing that deserters should be shot, booed him throughout.

At the start of the second half, Ken Bates, the club chairman, went to the Chelsea end and demanded the removal of an obscene banner inviting Laudrup to return to Denmark and multiply. "I thought it was in very bad taste but they weren't official Chelsea supporters, just scum who made their own way here," he said.

Bates's opposite number at FC Copenhagen, Flemming Ostergaard, revealed later that he will travel to London on Monday and expect Laudrup to sign a contract - believed to be for three years as a player and seven as general manager.

Whether or not the Danish international appears at West Ham on Sunday or Arsenal in the Worthington Cup three days later, he seems certain to have played for the last time at Stamford Bridge, which in the circumstances might be just as well.

Gianluca Vialli, Chelsea's player-coach, said he had no hesitation about picking Laudrup last night, adding: "I've always had faith in Brian. I knew before the game he was having a quite difficult time with all that was going on but he's been outstanding in training and previous matches and he responded very well. He's been professional and the goal was the right reward for him."

Vialli, who left himself out of the squad, making only one change from the drawn first leg, was pleased with the way his "chaps" dominated the first half and then held on to their lead as Copenhagen finally foresook a negative 3-6-1 formation and came close to earning extra time at the very least.

Their coach, Kim Brink, had said the game would hang on attitude, not tactical sophistication, emphasising, nevertheless that his team must play sensibly for the first 20 minutes and not allow Chelsea to cancel out Bjarne Goldbaek's valuable away goal.

They managed that, but survived for only 12 minutes longer. The offending Chelsea banner had just been taken down briefly when Laudrup put his current team in front, heading in as Pierluigi Casiraghi's powerful effort from Graeme Le Saux's cross came back off the bar.

Chelsea had created a number of chances early on. A bad foul on Gianfranco Zola offered them a first opportunity, Roberto Di Matteo pushing the free-kick square for Le Saux to hit a 25-yard drive that Michael Stensgaard pushed round the post. The goalkeeper then had to beat out Casiraghi's header. All that came in the first 10 minutes and before the quarter hour, Le Saux missed badly when played in by Di Matteo.

The Danes were far more adventurous in the second half, the most alarming moment for Chelsea coming in the 62nd minute as three shots rained in. Celestine Babayaro cleared off the line from Thomas Rytter and the substitute Todi Jonsson hit the rebound wildly over the bar.

Midway through the second half, with his team on the back foot, Vialli brought off Laudrup and Zola sending on Tore Andre Flo, who should have secured a second goal to kill the tie. Casiraghi also wasted a chance when clear on goal. Stensgaard the former Liverpool reserve goalkeeper who wants to return to English football, denied both strikers, then joined in Copenhagen's last charge, arriving in the visitors' penalty area for a corner which David Nielsen side-footed wide.

FC Copenhagen (3-6-1): Stensgaard; Rytter, M Nielsen, Haren; Goldbaek, L Nielsen, Hemmingsen, P Nielsen, Thorninger, Jensen; D Nielsen. Substitutes: M Nielsen, Falch, Jonsson, H Larsen, Madsen, M Larsen, Pedersen (gk).

Chelsea (4-3-3): De Goey; Ferrer, Leboeuf, Desailly, Le Saux; Di Matteo, Wise, Babayaro; Laudrup (Petrescu, 66), Casiraghi, Zola (Flo, 75). Substituites: Poyet, Duberry, Lambourde, Nicholls, Hitchcock (gk).

Referee: C Colombo (France).

Rangers progress, page 30