Trabzonspor remains hopeful despite first-leg loss at Copenhagen

Reigning Süper Lig champion Trabzonspor remains hopeful despite a 2-1 first-leg defeat against FC Copenhagen in the Danish capital on Tuesday.

The Black Sea Storms were trailing 2-0 for the better part of the match but found a late lifeline when Greek midfielder Anastasios Bakasetas scored from distance in the 79th minute.

Earlier, the home team’s Swedish midfielder Viktor Claesson scored the opener in the ninth minute at the Parken Stadium.

Danish midfielder Lukas Lerager then put the ball into Trabzonspor’s net in the 48th minute to give his team a 2-0 lead.

Although the Turkish champion dominated possession and created several opportunities, it fell short of scoring.

Finally, Bakasetas gave the visiting side hope for the return leg in Türkiye with a shot from outside the box. The ball deflected off a Copenhagen player and fooled the goalkeeper to hit the net.

Bakasetas’ strike in the 79th minute made the final result 2-1.

The playoff second leg will be held at Trabzonspor’s Şenol Güneş Sports Comples on Aug. 24.

The winning club of will advance to the Champions League group stages, set to start on Sept. 6.

Trabzonspor’s coach Abdullah Avcı was hopeful of qualifying for the group stages.

In the post-match presser, Avcı said his team may have lost in terms of score but it was the clear winner when it comes to dominating possession and dominating the overall game.

“We planned to dominate the play and possession from the beginning to the end and we did.”

“We had more possession by sticking to our plans… We had more passes, more shots at goal… Our dominant game continued until the final whistle,” he said.

Avcı added these were good signs for the second match in Trabzon and that they would be rewarded in the second match.

Rangers held

Elsewhere, Armando Obispo spared Walter Benitez’s blushes as PSV Eindhoven rescued a 2-2 draw against Rangers in their Champions League playoff first leg.

PSV goalkeeper Benitez looked to have gifted Rangers the advantage when he allowed Tom Lawrence’s free kick to squirm through his hands in the second half at Ibrox.

Benitez’s howler put Rangers 2-1 ahead after Antonio Colak had canceled out Ibrahim Sangare’s opener for PSV.

But Obispo bailed out his teammate with a priceless late leveler that leaves the tie on a knife-edge heading into next week’s second leg in Eindhoven.

Although PSV will be favorites on home turf, Rangers should still fancy their chances after staging a rousing comeback from 2-0 down to defeat Union Saint-Gilloise 3-0 in the third qualifying round.

Following on from that dramatic comeback, this was another tense European night for Rangers in their bid to return to the Champions League group stages.

Rangers’ James Sands (L) in action with PSV Eindhoven’s Luuk de Jong during Champions League playoffs, Glasgow, Scotland, Aug. 16, 2022. (Reuters Photo)

Rangers last played in that round of the competition in 2010-11 before financial problems saw them drop into Scottish football’s bottom tier, from where they eventually returned to the top flight.

They were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers by Malmo last season, then enjoyed a memorable run to the Europa League final, only to lose to Eintracht Frankfurt in the final.

In a nod to Rangers’ European heritage, Ibrox legend John Greig was watching from the stands alongside former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.

But Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team initially struggled to rise to the occasion on a rainy night in Glasgow.

“It was very close. The tie is open. PSV are an excellent team and they showed that. We still have the chance to go through,” Van Bronckhorst said.

Netherlands striker Luuk de Jong was inches away from giving PSV an early lead when he fired over from close range.

Unable to shake off their lethargy, Rangers paid the price for some woeful defending in the 37th minute.

James Tavernier and Connor Goldson failed to clear a PSV corner, allowing Sangare to scoop his shot past Rangers keeper Jon McLaughlin from six yards.

Wake-up call

Sangare’s goal served as a much-needed wake-up call for the Rangers, who responded with an incisive raid to equalize just three minutes later.

Lawrence and Steven Davis ignited the move with one-touch passes to Tavernier on the right flank.

Croatia striker Colak had scored in his previous three Rangers appearances and the close-season signing was on target again as he met Tavernier’s cross with a clinical finish into the far corner.

Finally showing the same energy levels as their raucous fans, Rangers nearly took the lead just before halftime when Tavernier’s header forced a save from Benitez.

Van Bronckhorst was up against his former Netherlands team-mate Ruud van Nistelrooy, the former Manchester United striker in his first managerial role with PSV this season.

Van Nistelrooy’s men remained a threat and Ismael Saibari poked narrowly wide after Rangers made a hash of dealing with De Jong’s header.

Benitez made a complete mess of handling Lawrence’s 70th-minute free kick, which bounced out of his grasp and trickled over the line despite his desperate attempt to claw it back.

But Obispo silenced Ibrox in the 78th minute as he rose above Goldson to meet a corner with a towering header that flashed past McLaughlin.

“The better chances were for us in the second half but 2-2 is a fair result. Both teams are so balanced,” Van Nistelrooy said.

In Norway, hosts Bodo/Glimt edged Dinamo Zagreb 1-0. Norwegian veteran Amahl Pellegrino headed in the only goal in the 37th minute

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