Copenhagen held 10-man Manchester City to a goalless draw in Denmark on Wednesday night in a match dominated by VAR.
The visitors, who had Erling Haaland on the bench throughout, suffered a string of bad luck in a frustrating first half that included a missed penalty and a player sent off, as referee Artur Dias was called to the pitchside monitor on three occasions during the opening 45 minutes.
His first decision was to chalk off a Rodri wonder strike from 30 yards out after the ball had brushed the arm of Riyad Mahrez in the build-up.
He was called over again to investigate a potential Nicolai Boilesen handball in the box and awarded City the penalty, but Mahrez couldn’t convert from 12 yards out as Kamil Grabara made a strong save to his right-hand side.
City defender Sergio Gomez was then dismissed after 35 minutes following a last-man challenge to bring down Hakon Haraldsson, which was picked up by the VAR as further misery was piled on to the visitors as they were reduced to 10 men.
Neither side could find the breakthrough in a scrappy second half as Copenhagen ended City’s 100% record in Europe so far this campaign.
City are still top of the group, four points ahead of Borussia Dortmund, who play Sevilla later in the evening.
TALKING POINT – A GAME DOMINATED BY VAR
Referee Artur Dias was required to investigate three incidents at the pitchside monitor, but all three decisions were probably the correct calls.
Both handballs, committed by Mahrez before Rodri’s strike and Boilesen in the box that led to City’s penalty, did strike the arms of the offenders, albeit very lightly. Each of those decisions was appropriately picked up by VAR as they would have been difficult for the referee to spot in real time, but the challenge that led to Gomez’s red card was the concerning decision.
How did the referee not give the foul in the first place? This was the call that probably had the most effect on the result. Gomez was comfortably beaten by Hakon Haraldsson in a foot race and brought the forward down as he broke through on goal, but the referee waved play on. Moments later the game was paused as the referee was informed of the incident, and told to go over and check the monitor. It was the easiest decision of the lot to send Gomez off, as City were reduced to 10.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – KAMIL GRABARA (COPENHAGEN)
For a goalkeeper that was on the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline six days ago, Grabara played outstandingly to recover from last week’s mauling. He denied Mahrez from the spot, and made a number of strong saves to stop City from scoring.
He was let off in a way that he didn’t have to face the devastating Haaland, who didn’t feature on the night, but nonetheless, he put in a great performance and earned his side a point against the Premier League champions.
COPENHAGEN: Grabara 9, Lund 7, Khocholava 7, Boilesen 7, Kristensen 7, Stamenic 6, Lerager 7, Kristiansen 6, Claesson 6, Haraldsson 6, Daramy 5
Subs: Diks N/A, Johannesson 6, Mukairu N/A
MAN CITY: Ederson 7, Cancelo 7, Akanji 7, Laporte 7, Gomez 5, Rodri 8, De Bruyne 7, Gundogan 7, Mahrez 5, Alvarez 6, Grealish 7
Subs: Dias 6, Ake N/A , Bernardo 6, Foden 6
14’ – GOAL DISALLOWED – That’s really unfortunate for Rodri, who hit the sweetest of strikes from 30 yards which nestled perfectly in the top left corner of the net. His wait for a Champions League goal goes on!
24’ – PENALTY TO CITY! – Boilesen handles the ball inside the box from a Man City corner. Again, it’s harsh, but it brushes his arm and the referee points to the spot.
25’ – PENALTY SAVED! – Grabara denies Mahrez from 12 yards! Mahrez goes to the goalkeeper’s right, and Grabara guessed right! It remains all square.
30’ – RED CARD! – Gomez is sent off for the last-man foul on Haraldsson!
72’ – BIG CHANCE FOR COPENHAGEN! – Kristiansen and Johannesson combine again as the former delivers a brilliant ball towards the latter at the back post, but as the substitute slides in the ball is just out of his path.