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MATCHES
 
 
 
 
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12/10/2013
 

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score nine goals in the group stages of the Champions League as Real Madrid won 2-0 away at FC Copenhagen on Tuesday.


Luka Modric had given a surprisingly strong Madrid side the lead with a wonder strike on 25 minutes.


Ronaldo then doubled the advantage just after the break with a clinical finish from close range, but it wasn't a perfect night for the Portuguese as he had a late penalty saved by Copenhagen keeper Johan Wiland.


Real's two goals also meant they equaled a competition record of 20 goals in the group stages as they finished with 16 points from a possible 18.


Ronaldo was making his return to the side after three games out through injury and suspension respectively, whilst Gareth Bale also started after missing Saturday's 0-0 draw away to minnows Olympic Xativa in the Copa del Rey due to flu.


On a freezing night and on a pitch in awful condition in the Danish capital it was perhaps unsurprising that the hosts made the more forceful start.


However, they failed to seriously trouble Iker Casillas and Madrid began to threaten midway through the half.


Karim Benzema was first to have an effort on goal as his low drive was well-handled by Wiland in the Copenhagen goal.

Just three minutes later though, the keeper was left helpless as Modric curled in his first goal of the season with a stunning strike from 25 yards.


Wiland then had to be alive to deny Ronaldo as he bundled the Portuguese's effort round the post.


Copenhagen did have the ball in the net before half-time when Thomas Delaney outjumped Casillas. However, the goal was ruled out as the midfielder not only appeared to foul the Spanish captain but also put the ball in the net with his hand.


Ronaldo had to wait just three minutes after the break to make his mark as he latched onto Pepe's well-directed knockdown to fire home from close range.


The former Manchester United man then struck the post with an in-swinging effort as Madrid controlled the second-half with ease. He had the perfect opportunity to double his tally for the evening when he was felled inside the area by Delaney.


But Wiland stood up well to divert his dinked effort behind for a corner and moments later Bale failed to connect from barely three yards out with the goal at his mercy to keep the score down.

 
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12/09/2013
 

A banner from environmental activists Greenpeace protesting at Russian oil giant Gazprom's exploration in the Arctic interrupted a Real Madrid press conference ahead of their Champions League clash away to FC Copenhagen on Monday.


Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti and defender Pepe had just begun the press conference in the Danish capital when a banner was lowered behind them which read "Save the arctic, show Gazprom the red card."


The banner was quickly removed by officials before the press conference continued.


Gazprom is an official sponsor of the Champions League and it is not the first time Greenpeace has launched a protest of this type this season.


In October Swiss club FC Basel were fined 30,000 euros when four activists abseiled from the stadium roof to unfurl a banner saying "Don't foul the Arctic," during their Champions League match against Schalke.


Once the press conference restarted, though, normal service was resumed as Pepe backed teammate and compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or for the second time.


Ronaldo was named as a finalist for the award along with Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich on Monday. And despite the fact Real failed to win a trophy this year, Pepe believes the award should reward individual rather than collective achievement.


"I think the one that deserves it is Cristiano," he said.


"It is an individual award and this year Cristiano has had an amazing season. For example, Spain won the World Cup in 2010 and a Spanish player didn't win it and there are many other examples."


Ancelotti, meanwhile, confirmed Ronaldo will return to face the Danish champions on Tuesday after missing the last three games through injury and suspension.


Real have already secured their place in the last 16 as group winners, but the Italian is determined the end of the group on a high and said he will name his strongest available side. That means Gareth Bale will also return having missed Saturday's 0-0 draw away to lower league Olimpic Xativa in the Copa del Rey due to the flu.


"Bale has recovered. He had a little problem on Friday night but he will be completely fine to play tomorrow," said Ancelotti.


"Xabi (Alonso) is also available to play and I am going to play the best team possible."


Copenhagen cannot make the knockout rounds of the Champions League due to their inferior head-to-head results against other Group B rivals Juventus and Galatasaray.


However, they can still make the Europa League with a win and Ancelotti is sure Stale Solbakken's men will be desperate to land a famous victory and with it guaranteed European football in the New Year.


"Copenhagen will be a different team to the one that played in Madrid and one desperate to qualify for the Europa League.


"For us it is not an easy game, but we want to finish the group well and win the game."

 
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11/27/2013
 

Arturo Vidal scored a hat-trick, including two from the penalty spot, as Juventus relaunched their hopes of qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League with a rousing 3-1 win over Copenhagen on Wednesday. With Real Madrid securing first place in Group B after a 4-1 win at home to Galatasaray, Juventus replaced the Turks in second place on six points and now hold a two-point lead on both Galatasaray and Copenhagen. 


Sitting bottom of the group with no wins from four games, Juventus's backs were firmly against the wall. Antonio Conte's side ideally required a win against the Danes to relaunch what has been an uninspiring campaign, and after being frustrated on their way to a 1-1 draw in Copenhagen the Italian champions did not disappoint. 


Juventus dominated Stale Solbakken's men from the outset, pinning Copenhagen back in their own half for most of the opening period. And after half-chances by Paul Pogba and Carlos Tévez went begging, Juve's nerves were settled when Swedish referee Jonas Eriksoon pointed to the spot for a blatant handball by Copenhagen captain Lars Jacobsen just before the half hour as Pogba looked to collect Pirlo's flighted cross.


Vidal made no mistake from the spot, beating Johan Wiland to the keeper's right hand side. Juve looked dangerous for the remainder of the half but Pirlo failed to threaten with two free kicks from distance and when Kwadwo Asamoah collected deep on the left and laid off for Pogba, the Frenchman could only hit the side-netting.

 
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11/26/2013
 

Juventus coach Antonio Conte says only a victory against FC Copenhagen will do on Wednesday when the Italian champions make their latest bid for Champions League survival.


After four Group B games, Juve are still winless and sit bottom of the pile on three points, seven behind leaders Real Madrid. However, Juve are only one point behind second-placed Galatasaray and Copenhagen, meaning a win on Wednesday could propel them up to second place -- if Real, as widely expected, account for Galatasaray in Madrid.


Depending on events in the Spanish capital, that scenario could leave the Bianconeri on six points with a possible two-point cushion on Galatasaray ahead of a tricky away trip to Istanbul next month.


If Juventus manage only a draw against the Danes, qualification becomes far more complicated, while defeat would end Conte's hopes of taking his side into the last 16 knockout phase for the second successive season. Conte in recent days lamented the fact they may have to depend on results elsewhere to join the last 16, which they qualified for last season before making it to the quarter-finals and being ousted by eventual winners Bayern Munich.


He told media on Tuesday: "We really don't have any other choice but to win. A crucial and very difficult match awaits us because it's all over if we don't take the three points."


Following a 2-0 win over Livorno on Sunday, which propelled the Bianconeri to the top of Serie A for the first time this season, Juventus are confident they can overcome the Danish visitors.


Although, ultimately, goals will be crucial for the Italians, Conte says the wealth of experience throughout his squad means they will approach the match in a "calm" manner.


"We're calm. I have a squad that has experienced these kind of crucial matches for the past two and a half years and they also know how to deal with it," added Conte.


Having experimented with a 4-3-3 away to Real Madrid (1-2) and at home (2-2) against the runaway group leaders, Conte is set to field his traditional 3-5-2 on Wednesday. "It gives us most guarantees," added Conte.

 
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10/02/2013
 

Real Madrid made it six points from two games in Group B as doubles from Cristiano Ronaldo and Ángel di María guided them to a 4-0 win over FC Copenhagen.


Following his hat-trick in the 6-1 thrashing of Galatasaray in matchday one, Ronaldo now has five goals in just two Champions League games this season. The Portuguese headed home the opener midway through the first-half from Marcelo's fine cross and made the game safe 25 minutes from time with another header effort from Di María's rabona.


The Argentine winger made it 3-0 himself with a sensational curling effort from 25 yards and rounded off the scoring in stoppage time with another precise left-footed finish. 


 
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