Goals from Reid, Long and Tamas earn Clarke first victory
STEVEN Reid’s first-half free-kick stunner set Steve Clarke on the way to his first win as Albion head coach at Parken.
The Baggies enjoyed a thorough pre-season workout against the Danish giants and broke the deadlock when Reid curled home from 20 yards in the 15th minute – a similar goal to his fine set-piece against Wigan last term.
The tourists put the result beyond doubt in the dying minutes, with Shane Long earning and scoring an 89th-minute penalty before fellow sub Gabriel Tamas made it 3-0 with a deflected shot in the second minute of stoppage time.
Clarke’s options were increased by the return to availability of six players and there was plenty on show to please the Baggies boss.
There was also a great moment for the 50-odd travelling fans in the 71st minute, when Zoltan Gera made his long-awaited return from injury.
Captain-for-the-night Jonas Olsson saw his first pre-season action since returning from Euro 2012 duty with Sweden from the start as Clarke continued to experiment with his team.
Gera was also recalled for the first time since injuring his knee eight months ago and was named on the bench.
After last week’s 1-0 defeat by Malmo in Sweden, Albion faced more crack Scandinavian opposition in the final game of their mini-tour.
Copenhagen finished runners-up in the Danish Supaliga last term and that is the position they currently occupy after two games of the new campaign.
The hosts drew 1-1 at Sonderjyske on Sunday – but it was Albion who threatened first. After just 66 seconds, Marc-Antoine Fortune got in behind and Peter Odemwingie came within inches of connecting with his pull-back.
Odemwingie did connect three minutes later but was well off target with a speculative 30-yard drive.
Copenhagen’s greater fluency in possession during the opening stages was no surprise due to the fact the tourists’ preparations for the new season are still in their infancy.
But it was the Baggies who broke the deadlock. In the 15th minute, Odemwingie won a free-kick on the edge of the Copenhagen box when, surrounded by five white shirts, he was upended by Solvi Ottesen.
Reid stepped up and curled a sublime free-kick in off the underside of the bar for the Baggies’ first ‘public’ goal of pre-season.
The hosts recorded their first shot of the game three minutes later when Nicolai Jorgensen advanced to the edge of the penalty area, only to blaze well wide.
Moments later, the aid of a big deflection off Olsson also prevented Claudemir’s 20-yard effort troubling Luke Daniels’ goal.
Daniels had to make his first save on 22 when Pape Pate Diouf tried to catch him out with an audacious 35-yard chip, but the Baggies’ No.19 was alert and palmed the ball over.
Copenhagen had looked more purposeful since going behind and they worked the ball well to Andreas Cornelius on 29 but he curled wide from 18 yards.
Albion immediately broke upfield and almost made it 2-0. Fit-again Jerome Thomas cut in from the left and saw his low 20-yard strike blocked by Kim Christensen. The Copenhagen keeper did well to bounce back up and deny Fortune at point-blank range from the rebound.
The Baggies enjoyed a long spell of keep-ball as they kept Copenhagen pegged back in their own half. When the Supaliga side did attack again, Cornelius was off target with an acute drive.
Cornelius certainly had a taste for a shot and after good work by sub Christoffer Remmer down the right, the No.29 did find the target but directed his 20-yarder straight at Daniels.
Clarke made three changes at the break as Olsson, Thomas and Fortune made way for Tamas, Simon Cox and Long – the latter two seeing their first action since appearing at Euro 2012 for Ireland.
After a low-key start to the second half, Albion were guilty of backing off Claudemir on 51 and Daniels could only stand and watch as the midfielder blazed a shot wide from 20 yards.
Cox was soon in the thick of it and his right-footer from the edge of the box squirmed wide of the far post with the aid of a deflection.
Copenhagen, who had made seven changes at half-time, went closest to levelling on 64. Sub Cesar Santin wriggled free inside the box and looked certain to score as he pulled the trigger from 15 yards, but Daniels pulled off a superb reflex save and Albion cleared.
There were cries of ‘Gera, Gera’ on 71 from the small-but-loyal band of Baggies fans inside Parken as the Hungary star made his first appearance since last November. He came on for Odemwingie, with new boy Yassine El Ghanassy also replacing Mulumbu.
Albion went close to making it 2-0 two minutes later when Cox controlled Liam Ridgewell’s square ball inside the box and fired goalwards in one movement, only to see his effort creep inches wide of the far post.
Copenhagen went just as close moments later when Soren Frederiksen blazed fellow sub Bryan Oviedo’s pull-back over from 12 yards.
Nine minutes from time, Reid was at it again, this time seeing a rising 30-yard free-kick brilliantly tipped over by Christensen.
Daniels was called onto make one more save, pushing wide Christian Grindheim’s 25-yard drive – before Albion sealed it in the dying stages.
Long created and scored his side’s second in the final minute. The Ireland striker powered past Peter Larsson before being brought down in the box by the Copenhagen sub. He then coolly sent Christensen the wrong way from 12 yards.
Incredibly, there was still time for a third goal. In the second minute of stoppage time, Tamas’ 20-yarder took a huge deflection off Oviedo before nestling just inside the far post.
COPENHAGEN (4-2-4): Christensen; Jacobsen (c) (Remmer 42), Ottesen (Sigurdsson HT), Stadsgaard (Larsson 61), Bengtsson (Oviedo HT); Bergvold (Kristensen HT), Claudemir; Diouf (Frederiksen HT), Abdellaoue (Grindheim HT), Cornelius (Santin HT), Jorgensen (Bolanos, HT). Subs not used: Vaporakis (gk), Vingaard, Absalonsen, Toutouh.
ALBION (4-3-3): L Daniels; Reid, McAuley, Olsson (c) (Tamas HT), Ridgewell; Mulumbu (El Ghanassy 71), Morrison (Thorne 62), Dorrans (Mantom 62); Odemwingie (Gera 71), Fortune (Long HT), Thomas (Cox HT). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Jones, Hurst, Jara Reyes, Allan.
GOALS: ALBION – Reid (15), Long (pen 89), Tamas (90+2).
BOOKINGS: ALBION – Reid (foul 45).
REFEREE: M Johansen.
ALBION STARMAN: Steven Reid.