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CL: Copenhagen hold Barca to a draw

CL: Copenhagen hold Barca to a draw

Barcelona needed a win to seal its qualification in the knockout stage from Group D but were held to a 1-1 draw.

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Copenhagen: Claudemir's equaliser earned Copenhagen a 1-1 draw on Tuesday and held up Barcelona's progress to the knockout stage of the Champions League.

Barcelona needed a win to seal its qualification from Group D and Lionel Messi opened the scoring for the Spanish champions in the 31st minute when he latched onto a loose ball in the box and volleyed in.

It was Messi's 15th goal in 13 matches this season, and his 32nd career goal in European competitions, putting him above Rivaldo as Barcelona's record scorer in Europe.

But Copenhagen equalised less than a minute later. Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes fumbled Jesper Gronkjaer's cross from the left and Claudemir was on hand to volley in at the far post, to send the home crowd wild.

Barcelona almost won the match in injury time when substitute Pedro cut in from the left and curled a shot with his right foot that rebounded back off the inside of the far post.

"We played an extraordinary first half," said Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. "It's a shame that after we went up they got theirs so quickly. It was a very intense, tough game."

Barcelona remains top of group D on eight points, one point ahead of Copenhagen, which has won two of its four matches in the competition and is four points clear of third-placed Rubin Kazan.

"I am really proud of the boys," Copenhagen coach Stale Solbakken said.

Barcelona fielded a full-strength team, including forwards Messi and David Villa, midfield conductors Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and a central defensive pairing of Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique.

But it was Copenhagen which set the tone for an intense match early on, with Barcelona's captain Puyol flattened by a trailing arm in the first minute, and Claudemir smashing a shot against the post in the third.

Copenhagen striker Dame N'Doye was clattered by Barcelona goalkeeper Valdes in a first-half challenge reminiscent of German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher's infamous foul on France's Patrick Battiston in the 1982 World Cup semifinal.

Remarkably, the referee didn't give a free kick or show Valdes a card, and a shaken N'Doye was able to get up and continue playing.

It was an end-to-end match, with both teams having chances to score more goals.

"They're a team (Copenhagen) that if you don't maintain control of the game, they'll get on top of you," Guardiola said. "They're very strong defensively and very fast."

Copenhagen's N'Doye, Claudemir, Gronkjaer and Christian Bolanos all threatened Barcelona's goal.

At the other end, Wiland had a busy time fending off attempts by Messi, Iniesta, Villa and Seydou Keita.

"It is a massive achievement for my club," Gronkjaer said after the game. "It is a dream come true."

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