COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Manchester City avoided a tragedy of Hamlet proportions against Denmark's Midtjylland on Thursday after a last-gasp penalty shoot-out gave the English side a UEFA Cup lifeline.
It took until the 89th minute for this second qualifying round, second leg to burst into life when doughty defender Danny Califf unwittingly headed the ball past his own keeper to hand City the aggregate level at 1-1.
That was enough to see the English Premier side into extra-time and a penalty shoot-out in which keeper Joe Hart pulled off heroics to put City into the UEFA Cup first round.
Manchester pressed early as Martin Petrov's left-sided cross in the second minute was cleared by the Midtjylland defence.
But City's new Brazilian Jo was finding it difficult to make an impression on the damp surface and Blumer Elano, who scored two goals against West Ham at the weekend, looked ineffective.
The only good thing for the travelling City fans was off the field, with news that Shaun Wright-Phillips had signed from Chelsea, and Mark Hughes will know how much he needs the firepower after this performance.
At the start of the second half Mikkel Thygesen found a yard of space in the 62nd minute to sneak behind a flat-footed City defence to connect with a neat Simon Poulsen pass but he fluffed the finish.
The away side's defence was looking even more ragged five minutes when substitute Babajide Babatunde rose unchallenged to head the ball over the bar.
Shortly after, Hart had to be snappy to claim the ball from the feet of Babatunde, but the keeper was an observer when the striker was clear on goal in the 79th minute before slicing the ball wide.
Jonas Borring's measured cross was turned over City's bar from three yards by Babatunde, who seemed fated not to score in the night.
And fate beckoned for the Danes a minute from normal time when a hopeful Michael Ball cross was turned into the net by the American Califf - red shirts and red faces all around for Midtjylland.
Extra time saw City push with extra initiative and Michael Johnson raced through on the home goal only to hit a feeble effort at the keeper.
Stephen Ireland was next up on 97 minutes to send a close-range header wide of Lasse Heinze's post to make it two wasted chances in two minutes.
A swerving effort from City's Daniel Sturridge stunned the bar in the 104th minute as the game moved to a penalty shoot-out.
Enter the heroic Hart, who saved two penalties and countless many blushes as City hobbled, rather than strode, into Friday's first round draw.
|I´m just taking a sabbatical - Van Gaal denies he´s retired|
|Not even Gerrard won Premier League - Buttner says he´s not a United flop|
|Samper ignored Wenger as Barca midfielder rejected Arsenal|
|Pleased Pioli wants more from Inter|
|Evergrande boss Scolari dismisses Turan links|
|Klopp seeks legal advice over Matip|
|Marseille complete Sanson move|
|Inter 3 Bologna 2: Candreva prevents remarkable turnaround in Coppa Italia thriller|
|FA Cup Review: Non-league Lincoln stun Ipswich, Burnley and Palace through|
|Gabon v Burkina Faso: Aubameyang says hosts have learned from Guinea-Bissau setback|
|Mali 0 Egypt 0: El-Hadary makes history in stalemate|
|El-Hadary oldest AFCON player ever - 44-year-old Egypt goalkeeper makes history|
|Reus and Gotze on target but Bender injured in Dortmund win|
|Toure shunning lavish China interest to stay at City, says Seluk|
|Rahman´s AFCON in the balance, says Ghana boss Grant|
|Just 14 goals conceded and nine clean sheets - How Vertonghen blow could impact Tottenham|
|Ghana 1 Uganda 0: Andre Ayew hands Black Stars nervy victory|
|Swansea snap up Carroll and Olsson in double swoop|
|All is forgiven? - Costa trains with full Chelsea squad after reported Conte bust-up|
|I would throw myself off a bridge for Luis Enrique - Rakitic dismisses Barca rift rumours|
|Was Juventus´ new logo inspired by tennis star?|
|Smooth sailing for Liverpool in Plymouth? Klopp expects tough test|
|Demichelis re-joins Malaga until end of season|
|Cameroon v Guinea-Bissau: Broos urges new heroes to emerge|
|Boxing champ hits Carragher with Chinese Super League comeback prank|
|Zidane backs Navas and defends Benzema as Madrid aim to bounce back|
|Deportivo bring in Kakuta from Hebei after CSL rule changes|
|Matip could miss eight games without doing anything wrong - Klopp|
|United trigger Valencia´s contract extension|
|Ronaldo returns to Real Madrid´s Copa squad|
|FA fine Sagna for Instagram post|
|Nedved does not foresee more January business for Juventus|
|Rafinha injury blow for Barcelona|
|Villas-Boas fumes at CSL foreign player crackdown|
|Ibrahimovic invaluable to Manchester United youngsters - Rashford|
|Robben rejected China move|
|A-League review: Phoenix rise to the occasion to end Victory´s streak|
|Van Gaal slams English media over treatment at Manchester United|
|Mignolet: Liverpool in better position to win title than in 2013-14|
|Giroud wants Premier League title but understands China temptations|
|Tianjin forced to scrap moves for Costa, Benzema, Cavani and Falcao|
|My goal was better than Mkhitaryan´s - Giroud|
|Pochettino not interested in Argentina job|
|Kane: Tottenham can win Premier League|
|Corinthians dreaming of Drogba - Paulo Roberto|
|Coutinho calls for Liverpool focus|
|Chiellini compares Pogba to LeBron and Bolt|
|Maradona to become Napoli ambassador|
|Mihajlovic furious after Torino collapse|
|Icardi has offers from China - Wanda Nara|
|Pogba can cope with pressure - Ibrahimovic|
|´My half-time words will stay in the dressing room´ - Montella annoyed with AC Milan|
|Juventus unveil dramatic change to club logo - but not everyone´s a fan|
|´I do not think I will return to coaching´ - Van Gaal set to call it quits|
|Torino 2 AC Milan 2: Bacca caps thrilling comeback as hosts pay the penalty|
|DR Congo 1 Morocco 0: Kabananga pounces on blunder to give 10 men the points|
|´Happy and comfortable´ Sanchez dismisses Arsenal exit talk|
|How much?! West Ham flop Simone Zaza could cost Valencia €20m|
|Mali v Egypt: Salah leads Pharaohs´ bid for AFCON glory|
|Sevilla concede they ´cannot force´ sporting director Monchi to stay|
|Ivory Coast 0 Togo 0: Reigning champions held to opening draw by Adebayor and co.|
|Goalkeeping woes, Stones and tactical confusion - How Guardiola is making life difficult for himself|
|Ozil and Sanchez can be persuaded to stay - Cech|
|Pogba: I rejected Barcelona and Real Madrid|
|Ghana v Uganda: Gyan dreams of first trophy since 1982|
|Chiellini: Juventus a work in progress|
|Robben agrees Bayern renewal until 2018|
|Hazard: Goals do not matter to me|
|Bennell pleads not guilty to eight child sex offences|
|Muller fed up with debate over Bayern role|
|Wenger glad Sanchez is not ´a Costa problem´|
|Flick resigns as DFB´s sporting director|
|Gomis ´can´t wait´ to welcome Payet to Marseille|
|Chinese FA changes foreign player rules after ´irrational´ spending|
|Like father, like son: Justin Kluivert follows in dad´s footsteps|
|´No reason to lose him´ - Marotta rubbishes talk of Allegri exit|
|Courtois: We don´t need Costa|
|Kane: Tottenham players won´t go to China|
|Noble ´angry and disappointed´ with Payet|
|Klopp furious over Matip uncertainty|
|Wenger surprised by tight Premier League|
|´Money is not everything´ - Conte issues warning amid China speculation|
|Fiorentina defeat a ´bad setback´ - Allegri|
|´This will elevate this group of players´ - Sampaoli revels in Sevilla late show|