Copenhagen grabbed a crucial point in a 0-0 draw at Bayern Munich on Wednesday as more VAR handball controversy erupted in the Champions League.
The German champions had already qualified for the last 16 but the stalemate at Allianz Arena helped keep alive Copenhagen’s hopes of joining them.
Coupled with Manchester United drawing 3-3 at Galatasaray, the Danes sit second in Group A with a match remaining and will have their fate in their own hands when they host the Turkish side in a fortnight.
Copenhagen had a major let-off in stoppage time at the end of the game when referee Stephanie Frappart awarded Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern a penalty for handball against Peter Ankersen.
But VAR showed contact with the upper arm and shoulder and Frappart withdrew the penalty after consulting the pitch-side monitor, to protests from striker Harry Kane and Tuchel.
It came a night after Paris Saint-Germain salvaged a 1-1 home draw against Newcastle United thanks to a late Kylian Mbappe penalty, awarded for a dubious handball against Tino Livramento after VAR intervened.
Bayern veteran Thomas Mueller said the decision against his side laid bare VAR’s inconsistencies.
“I’m no friend of the rule, but when you compare it to yesterday, it’s pretty weird,” he told DAZN.
“I think the rule-makers want to try and make handball calls objective, but you can’t do that.”
Despite Bayern dropping points in the Champions League group stages at home for the first time since 2018, the German champions qualify for the last 16 in first place.
It is the 16th straight year that they have reached the knockouts.
Tuchel said his side “can do better and we’ve done better recently, but we can check that box and move past it”.
“We weren’t fluid enough and we didn’t take enough risks.”
– Quiet Kane –
After making no substitutions in the weekend’s win over Cologne despite complaints about player strain, Tuchel shuffled his deck, benching Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry, but keeping Kane up front.
A hip complaint ruled out defender Kim Min-jae, pushing midfield stalwart Leon Goretzka into central defence, while Mueller was given a first Champions League start of the campaign.
Despite 22 goals in 17 matches for Bayern before kick-off, England skipper Kane was quiet.
The home side however had several early chances through veteran Mueller and French teenager Mathys Tel.
Mueller created an early chance for Tel only for the 18-year-old to blast over, scuffing his shot with his shin.
Tel then found Mueller directly in front of goal, but the 2014 World Cup winner’s attempt was kept out by a desperate save from Kamil Grabara in the Copenhagen goal.
Grabara was on the spot again midway through the second half, keeping a Kane shot out of goal with his fist.
Mueller, playing 90 minutes for just the second time this season in all competitions, went down in the box late under attention of the visiting defence but Frappart ignored his claims of a penalty.
“From the images it doesn’t look so wild… it’s a small push but an obvious one at the right moment. You can give it,” Mueller said.
Bayern travel to Manchester in mid-December with the hosts sitting last in the group and in grave danger of an early exit.