Copenhagen beat Galatasaray to progress in Champions League

FC Copenhagen's Lukas Lerager scored a second-half goal and was sent off as they reached the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in over a decade with a 1-0 home win over Galatasaray on Tuesday to secure second spot in Group A.

Lerager's goal illuminated a chilly night as the Danish side's discipline and doggedness saw them progress from a group in which many experts expected them to finish bottom.

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Instead, the Danish champions garnered eight points to end eight behind Bayern Munich, who beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford to leave the English side bottom on four points, one behind Galatasaray who reached the Europa league playoffs.

"It shouldn't be possible with the group we ended up in, I'm so damn proud," midfielder Rasmus Falk told broadcaster Viaplay. "It was a fantastic performance and we've had some great games. It's rare this happens to a Danish team, it's huge."

Copenhagen's Peter Ankersen had the best chance of the first half when he was teed up as he came marauding into the box, but the Danish fullback dragged his shot across the goal and just wide of the far post.

FC Copenhagen upset the odds to progress at the expense of Manchester Untied and Galatasaray.
LISELOTTE SABROE/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

The host side's players howled for a penalty before the break as Elias Achouri appeared to be fouled when he was dispossessed on the edge of the Galatasaray box, but Italian referee Daniele Orsato waved away their protests.

They were the only incidents of note in a dull first half, but Copenhagen ignited the fanatical home crowd by taking the lead in the 58th minute from an attack down the left, with Achouri feeding Lerager for a close-range finish.

Needing to win to progress, Galatasaray's attack was strangely muted all evening with Kerem Aktürkoglu blazing two chances high over the crossbar in quick succession while the hosts made two late goal-line clearances to hang on for victory.

By then Lerager had been sent off for two yellow cards, but the win sent the Danish side through to the knockout stages for the first time since the 2010-11 season, while Galatasaray drop into the Europa League knockout round playoffs. 

The round of 16 draw will take place on Monday, and though Copenhagen hero Lerager is likely facing a suspension that will rule him out of his side's knockout clash after his sending off, he was still delighted to go through.

"It's a bit of a shame to get a red card at the end. I don't know what I'm thinking right now ... it's crazy, we're going through," he told Viaplay.