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Nov 2, 2006

Copenhagen dream lives on after they stun United

COPENHAGEN, Nov 2 (Reuters) - FC Copenhagen stunned Manchester United with their first goal and victory in the group phase of the Champions League on Wednesday, and now the Danish champions are dreaming of reaching the last 16.

'It's an awesome feeling to score against a team of such international quality,' said Sweden striker Marcus Allback, who scored bundled in the 73rd-minute winner after United failed to clear a corner. 'There was so much talk about us not being able to score. This time we had the luck that we needed.'

Copenhagen did not find the net in their Group F losses away to United and Celtic and home draw against Benfica.

But they are now acquiring an aura of giantkillers after also beating Ajax 2-0 in Amsterdam earlier this year to secure an unexpected berth in Europe's top club competition.

'We were more in control of the match today,' said keeper Jesper Christiansen, who preserved the victory for Copenhagen with a diving stop at the feet of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a save from a Paul Scholes chip. 'We weren't as naive as we were at Old Trafford.'

Danish newspapers hailed Copenhagen's victory, hoping it would spark more European success for football in Denmark.

'The Danish champions delivered a piece of craftsmanship that more than matched the qualification adventure in Amsterdam,' daily Jyllands-Posten wrote.

'Suddenly the dream of advancement into the next stage of the Champions League is alive.'

Tabloid Ekstra Bladet saw a measure of justice in Copenhagen's win.

'Quite simply, FCK added a meritorious chapter to Danish football history with victory over the giant Manchester United, which received just punishment for walking on to the pitch with a superior, lazy attitude,' it wrote in an editorial.

United lead the group with nine points ahead of Celtic on six after their 3-0 defeat away to Benfica, who are level on four points with Copenhagen.

'You should dream big if you dream at all,' said Copenhagen coach Stale Solbakken. 'Anything can happen, we will fight all the way. It's a wide open group, but we need one more miracle.'

He said his team face a difficult next game at Benfica, but have a great chance in their last group match at home to Celtic.

'I guess we are favourites against Celtic,' he said.

United travel to Glasgow next before hosting the Portuguese. The first two teams in each group qualify for the last 16. The third-placed team goes into the UEFA Cup.