Benfica 3-1 Fenerbahçe: Portuguese Side Erase Advantage to Reserve Final Spot

SL Benfica vs. Fenerbahce SK

Benfica 3-1 FenerbahçeAykut Kocaman and his men went into this game with the slight advantage they had gained in the first leg of this tie. Knowing they had struggled to score even the only goal that had put them in this position, however, Kocaman knew that it was way to early to start celebrating. Jorge Jesus hoped that the home support and the determination of his players would help deliver his side to the promised land which was, in this case, the Amsterdam Arena.

Contrary to the other semi-final between Chelsea and Basel, this game saw early goals. 9 minutes was all it took for Benfica to level the scores on aggregate! Nicolas Gaitan took advantage of Fenerbhace’s distractedness and finished well past the Turkish captain in goal. A good run by Lima provided the assist for the 25-year-old Argentine winger. Soon after came a chance for the visitors to equalize as they were awarded a penalty for Benfica’s Ezequiel Garay’s handling of the ball inside the area. Dirk Kuyt made no mistakes with this one, and Artur had no chance.

The Turks’ joy was short-lived, however. Just 12 minutes after Dirk Kuyt’s successful penalty, Oscar Cardozo put his side back in front with an excellent strike that was assisted by Enzo Perez. It still wasn’t enough, however, as Fenerbahce were still through on away goals were things to remain as they were at half time.

One goal was, at this point, all that was needed to take the hosts through to the final, and Oscar Cardozo ensured they got it with another beautiful goal in the 66th minute, well-provided by Luisao. The Portuguese side then managed to hang on for the remaining 24 minutes or so (despite attempts by their visitors), showing that they did, indeed, deserve to be in the Amsterdam Final.

Statistics
  • Benfica 3-1 FenerbahçeBenfica had 2 more attempts (11) over Fenerbahce (9)
  • Benfica were 54.54% on target and enjoyed a whole 69% possession, while Fenerbahce were 44.44% on target with the remaining 31% possession
  • Benfica were awarded 24 free-kicks on the night, while Fenerbahce were given only 11
  • 33 fouls were committed between the two teams during this match; Benfica committed 36.4% of those fouls (12), while Fenerbahce got themselves into more trouble having committed the remaining 63.6% (21) of the fouls
  • Benfica were awarded 3 corners compared to Fenerbahce’s 1
  • Artur Moraes made 2 saves as opposed to Volkan Demirel, who made 4
  • 5 substitutions were made during this match; 2 by Benfica and the remaining 3 by Fenerbahce
  • A total of 4 yellow cards (2-a-side) was awarded between the two sides by French referee, Stephane Lannoy
  • No players were sent off during this game

Jorge Jesus and Aykut Kocaman lined up the following squads:

Benfica Starting XI

Artur, Pereira, Garay, Luisao (c), Almeida, Matic, Gaitan, Lima, Perez, Salvio, Cardozo

Subs: Lopes, Melgarejo, Miranda, Aimar, Martins, Urreta, and Rodrigo

Fenerbahce Starting XI

Demirel (c), Gonul, Yobo, Korkmaz, Ziegler, Erkin, Sahin, Kuyt, Cristian, Ucan, Sow

Subs: Gunok, Irtegun, Kaldirim, Stoch, Topuz, Senturk, and Simsek

Final Score: SL Benfica* 3-1 Fenerbahce SK (Agg: 3-2)

Gaitan 9′, Oscar Cardozo 35′, 66′ | Kuyt 23′ (pen)

Goals and Assists
  • Nicolas Gaitan’s goal was a left-footed shot in the 9th minute of the first half, assisted by a Lima Dos Santos pass; this goal was Nicolas’ first in the tournament
  • Dirk Kuyt’s goal was a penalty, scored in the 23rd minute as a result of a handball by Benfica’s Ezequiel Garay in the penalty area; the resulting goal was Dirk’s fourth in the tournament
  • Oscar Cardozo’s first goal was a left-footed shot in the 35th minute, assisted by an Enzo Perez free-kick; this goal was Oscar’s fifth in the tournament
  • The second goal scored by Oscar Cardozo’s (which was, by the way, Benfica’s 600th goal in Europe) was yet again a left-footed shot in the 66th minute and assisted by a Luisao Da Silva pass. This brilliant goal to put his side into the Europa League final was Oscar’s sixth in the tournament
Europa League Final

Having eliminated Fenerbahce SK, SL Benfica are through to the final of the competition and will face Chelsea of England, who had managed to secure their place in the final against Basel of Switzerland just minutes earlier.

Written by Ange Marline

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Fenerbahçe 1-0 Benfica: Turkish Side Take the Lead on Aggregate After Home Win

Fenerbahce SK vs. SL Benfica

Fenerbahçe SK 1-0 SL BenficaTo get to the semi-finals of this season’s Europa League, SK Fenerbahce had managed to eliminate Lazio, Viktoria Plzen, and BATE Borisov before themselves. In the same manner, Benfica had managed to eliminate Newcastle United, Girdondins de Bordeaux, and Bayer Leverkusen in previous Europa League match-ups. Fenerbahce had been in the competition longer than Benfica, however, and so they had played a few more teams than their opponents on the night. The Turkish side had emerged top in Group C and were, therefore, no underdogs to the Portuguese giants, who were thought to be the stronger team by the majority. Benfica hadn’t lost a single match in their Europa League campaign before this match. Despite having been goalless for a whole 72 minutes, this one turned out to be quite a match!

The game would have started so well for the Portuguese visitors had it not been for a smart save by Volkan Demirel on the 5th minute. Salvio had a decent chance, but it wasn’t meant to be. Aimar then had another chance to put his side ahead just 8 minutes from Salvio’s attempt, but just missed the target. Fenerbahce were able to dominate from then on, coming close more than once and even hitting the woodwork once. Fenerbahce were awarded a good chance to take a well-deserved lead on the brink of half-time when they were awarded a penalty from a foul by John on Gokhan Gonul inside the area. Cristian took the penalty but, once again, just hit the woodwork despite defeating Artur. The home players were frustrated for having missed a chance like this as the half-time whistle was blown. Benfica were, more than anything, relieved that they have survived the threat of the Turks as they went into their dressing room at half-time.

At half-time, Fenerbahce looked more like the team to win, as Benfica had been clearly outplayed. Fenerbahce started on a high, with their fans cheering even louder as the game got more intense. A good attempt in the early minutes of the second half inspired the Turkish side even more as they looked to break the deadlock. Unfortunately, however, Dirk Kuyt’s shot hit the woodwork once again! How very frustrating for the Turks! Benfica were gifted a good chance just 9 minutes into the second 45 as well but, just as their opponents had done thrice already, they hit the woodwork. Benfica were just unlucky, as a goal would have certainly changed their game.

The woodwork had been Fenerbahce’s biggest enemy on the night but, as it turned out to be, the woodwork was instrumental in what would be the only goal of the game. After a goalless 71 minutes on the pitch, Egemen Korkmaz finally managed to break the deadlock with a header just off the post and into the net from a Cristian corner, a well-deserved goal for the home side.

The last 20 or so minutes were intense, but Fenerbahce managed to prevent their visitors from getting an equalizer, and it ended 1-0 to the home side after what had been a very, very frustratingly long search for the goal that would separate the sides ahead of their second-leg clash.

Statistics
  • Fenerbahçe SK 1-0 SL BenficaFenerbahce had 2 more attempts (9) over Benfica (5)
  • Fenerbahce were 66.66% on target and enjoyed a whole 62% of the possession, while Benfica were 40% on target and had the remaining 38% possession
  • Fenerbahce were awarded 19 free-kicks on the night, while Benfica got 16
  • 25 fouls were committed between the two teams on the night; Fenerbahce committed 32% of those fouls (8 fouls), while Benfica committed the remaining 68% (17 fouls).
  • Fenerbahce got 8 corners, while Benfica only received 4
  • Volkan Demirel made 2 saves compared to Artur’s 4
  • Fenerbahce hit the woodwork 3 times, while Benfica did so once
  • 6 substitutions (3-a-side) were made during this match; Aycut Kocaman and Jorge Jesus replaced two midfielders and one striker each.
  • 7 yellow cards (3 to Fenerbahce and 4 to Benfica) were issued by referee on the night, Milorad Mazic
  • No players were sent off during this game

Aycut Kocaman and Jorge Jesus lined up the following squads:

Fenerbahce Starting XI

Demirel, Korkmaz, Yobo, Ziegler, Gonul, Topal, Meireles, Cristian, Sow, Kuyt, Webo

Subs: Gunok, Irtegun, Sahin, Krasic, Topuz, Ucan, and Senturk

Benfica Starting XI

Artur, Pereira, Garay, Jardel, Melgarejo, Matic, Gomes, Aimar, John, Salvio, Cardozo

Subs: Lopes, Roderick, Martins, Gaitan, Urreta, Lima, and Rodrigo

Final Score: Fenerbahce SK 1-0 SL Benfica

Korkmaz 72′

Goals and Assists
  • Egemen Korkmaz’s goal was a header on the 71st minute, assisted by a Cristian corner via a little deflection and off the woodwork; this goal was Egemen’s 2nd in the competition

Written by Ange Marline

Europa League Quarter-Finals Second Leg Review: Part 1

SS Lazio vs. Fenerbahce SK

SS Lazio 1-1 Fenerbahce SKHaving gotten a decent result from the first leg of this game, Fenerbahce prepared themselves for what would be a tight game in Rome. Lazio hoped they would use the home advantage to beat their visitors, but, as they came to find out later, enough mistakes had already been made and there was no way to reverse them.

The first half saw zero goals, although both sides came close more than one time. Volkan Demirel and Federico Marchetti ensured both sides would remain level, at least for the first 45.

The second half was, by far, more exciting than the first. Giuseppe Biava made way for Miroslav Klose and this was the first substitution of the game. 4 minutes after it was made, the home side had their first goal. Senad Lulic got hold of an Antonio Candreva pass to score a goal that had long been coming for his side. Thirty minutes from time and Lazio were more alive than ever.

13 minutes later, both sides made Brazilian substitutions as they tried to get past each other; Sergio Floccari and Salih Ucan came on for Ederson and Cristian respectively. Both of them had not been on for a minute when Fenerbahce finally got one in. Caner Erkin, with the help of Webo, was able to get past Marchetti and restore his side’s lead on aggregate.

It was one step forward, two steps back for Lazio and Petkovic knew he had to work fast. Antonio Rozzi came on for Libor Kozak just three minutes later, but there was not much the Italian side could do to get back level on aggregate with the determined Turks. The last 14 minutes plus stoppage time were intense, but there was to be no more goals on the night. Fenerbahce were through to the semi-finals for the first time, having avoided a defeat in Italy for the very first time in their history.

Statistic-wise, Lazio had a total of 20 attempts against Fenerbahce’s 5. The home side had far better chances than their visitors, who were confined to their own half for most of the game. Pavel Kralovec issued a total of 6 yellow cards (3-a-side) between the two teams. No player were sent off during this game.

Vladimir Petkovic and Aykut Kocaman lined up the following squads:

Lazio Starting XI

Marchetti, Ciani, Lulic, Radu, Hernanes, Ledesma (c), Cana, Candreva, Biava, Kozak, Ederson

Subs: Bizzarri, Crecco, Gonzalez, Cataldi, Klose, Rozzi, and Floccari

Fenerbahce Starting XI

Demirel (c), Korkmaz, Yobo, Ziegler, Gonul, Meireles, Sahin, Erkin, Webo, Cristian, Kuyt

Subs: Gonuk, Kaldirim, Irtegun, Topal, Ucan, Krasic, and Topuz

Final Score: SS Lazio 1-1 Fenerbahce SK* (Agg: 1-3)

Lulic 60′ | Caner Erkin 72′

Semi-Finals

Having eliminated Lazio, Fenerbahce were drawn against SL Benfica of Portugal for the semi-finals of the competition. They will play the first leg of this game at home and the second leg away.

Basel 1893 vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Basel 1893 2-2 Tottenham HotspurThe first leg of this tie had been a very tight match at White Hart Lane, and the draw at the end just simply said it all: both sides were very determined to go through to the next round. In a game that would go to penalties after yet another 2-2 draw, the overall better side emerged victorious on the night.

The first half started well for the home side, who knew they would be ahead even with nothing but a clean sheet. The Londoners were determined to score goals, however, and managed to do just that after 23 minutes courtesy of a Clint Dempsey shot into an empty net.

Dragovic knew he had to correct his mistakes or have his fellow teammates do it for him by getting one past the other American in the Tottenham squad to keep them ahead. The 22-year-old center-back’s prayers were answered just 4 minutes later, when his side managed to do just what was needed to level the scores. Assisted by his Basel captain, Mohammed Salah managed to confuse the Spurs defense, run into the six-yard box, and shoot past a defeated Brad Friedel to make it 1-1 on the night and 3-3 on aggregate. The two sides were still very much alive at the end of the first 45 minutes.

The second half started well for both sides, with the visitors almost scoring after just two minutes into the half. Yann Sommer was there to save, however, allowing his side to break well and earn a corner from which would result a second goal just a minute later. Aleksandar Dragovic managed to erase his first-half mistake by finding the net with the assistance of a Fabian Schar attempt. 4 minutes into the second half and Basel were already in the lead again.

There were decent attempts from both sides after that, but there was to be only 1 more goal in this game, and it came 33 minutes after Dragovic’s goal. Assisted by Tom Huddlestone, Clint Dempsey managed to get the ball past Sommer yet again with a strong, brilliant, low shot, taking the game to extra time (after the remaining 7 or so minutes of normal time saw nothing for both sides).

Jan Vertonghen had been issued a straight red for a foul on Marco Streller in the first minute of stoppage-time, and Tottenham’s defense was shaken as the game went into extra time. Despite some good attempts from both sides, it would only take a penalty shoot-out to decide who would win the game as both sides had really held each other.

Fabian Schar, Marco Streller, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fabian Frei, and Marcelo Diaz all scored their penalties. Tom Huddlestone had his saved, however, while Emmanuel Adebayor simply sent his over the bar to gift the home side a well-deserved win.

Statistic-wise, Basel had a total of 21 attempts (including 1 against the woodwork) against Tottenham’s 17. Tottenham were more accurate in front of goal, however, with the majority of their attempts having been on target. A total of 8 yellow cards was issued between the two teams; 3 going to the home side, and the rest to the visitors. Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham was issued the only red card of the game: a straight red.

Murat Yakin and Andre Villas-Boas lined up the following squads:

Basel Starting XI

Sommer, Ho, Degen, Dragovic, Schar, Stocker, Frei, Elneny, Die, Streller (c), Salah

Subs: Vailati, Suaro, Degen, Cabral, Frei, Diaz, and Steihofer

Tottenham Starting XI

Friedel, Dawson, Vertonghen, Walker, Naughton, Dempsey, Holtby, Sigurdsson, Parker (c), Dembele, Adebayor

Subs: Lloris, Caulker, Livermore, Coulthirst, Carroll, Huddlestone, and Assou-Ekotto

Final Score: Basel 1893* 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Agg: 4-4) (4-1 on Penalties)

Dempsey 23′, 83′ |Salah 27′, Dragovic 49

Semi-Finals

Having eliminated Tottenham Hotspur, FC Basel were drawn against Chelsea of England for the semi-finals of the competition. They will play the first leg of this game at home and the second leg away.

Written by Ange Marline

Europa League Quarter-Finals First Leg Review: Part 1

Fenerbahce SK vs. SS Lazio

Fenerbahce SK 2-0 SS LazioAfter a tough time in the Round of 16, Fenerbahce prepared to host a team that had been excellent in the previous round. For this reason, Aykut Kocaman was determined to do his best to ensure his boys would score as many goals as possible in the first leg before their trip to Italy for the second leg. Vladimir Petkovic, in the same manner, knew their hosts would be tough and encouraged his side to score as many away goals as they could.

The first half-hour of this game was filled with decent attempts from both teams; most of them coming from the home side and the best one being a 17th minute attempt from Moussa Sow that hit the woodwork. Federico Marchetti in the Lazio goal more than had a tough time trying to keep a clean sheet. That’s not to say that Volkan Demirel had it easy, though; Lazio were also looking to score some goals as well, Ederson and Hernanes in particular. The first half was a tight game overall.

The second half started badly for the Italian visitors as they were reduced to 10 men in only the 48th minute. Ogenyi Onazi picked up a second yellow card after a bad challenge on Cristian. This send-off almost got the home side an immediate goal, but Raul Meireles hit the woodwork, to the relief of the away side. Lazio surprisingly also started to pick up from this point, but Volkan Demirel wasn’t going to let his team down at this point.

Decent chances kept on coming in from both sides, but it seemed as though there would be no goals on the night, until the home side were awarded a penalty just 12 minutes from full time. A Radu foul led to a Fenerbahce penalty which Webo made sure not to waste, putting his side in the lead ahead of their trip to Italy for the second leg.

Lazio kept trying to counter and get an important away goal, but Fenerbahce were determined to prevent them from doing so. The home side made life even harder for their visitors when they added one more to their tally. In the first of the 4 minutes that were added on at the end of the second half, Dirk Kuyt, who had been looking for a goal for the whole night, finally got the ball past Marchetti and into the Lazio net, managing what Caner Erkin’s free-kick was aimed to do some milliseconds earlier. And it was all over for the Italians, who now had to work harder in the second leg if they hoped to progress into the semi-finals of the competition.

Fenerbahce made 21 attempts on goal (including 2 that hit the woodwork) in total, compared to Lazio’s 12. The home side had, undoubtedly, the bigger share of possession on the night. A total of 9 yellow cards were issued between the two teams on the night. 20-year-old Nigerian Ogenyi Onazi was the only player sent off during this match.

Aykut Kocaman and Vladimir Petkovic lined up the following squads:

Fenerbahce Starting XI

Demirel (c), Korkmaz, Yobo, Ziegler, Gonul, Meireles, Sow, Cristian, Topal, Kuyt, Webo

Subs: Mert Gunok, Bekir Irtegun, Selcuk Sahin, Semih Senturk, Caner Erkin, Salih Ucan, and Mehmet Topuz

Lazio Starting XI

Marchetti, Ciani, Lulic, Radu (c), Gonzalez, Onazi, Cana, Candreva, Hernanes, Ederson, Kozak
Subs: Bizzarri, Biava, Crecco, Rozzi, Ledesma, Klose, and Mauri

Final Score: Fenerbahce SK 2-0 SS Lazio

Webo 78′ (pen), Kuyt 90+1′

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Basel 1893

Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Basel 1983Having gotten close to elimination in the previous round, Tottenham Hotspur knew they would have to up their game when they would host Basel of Switzerland. Murat Yakin knew his men would have to take advantage of their playing the first leg away and, in this, focused them on scoring as many away goals as they would be able to. It was going to be an exciting game.

The first 20 minutes of this match saw nothing but attempts from both sides. The visitors were, however, the much stronger side until this point. Gareth Bale, Marco Streller, and Markus Steinhofer had each given both goalkeepers a few scares with some decent attempts. 22 minutes in, and the game finally began to settle, lowering the tempo just a little bit.

The away side finally managed to break the deadlock in the 30th minute, when Valentin Stocker, having collected what was left of a decent attempt from Marco Streller, managed to put the ball into the back of the net. The away side did not allow the game to slow down and surprised their hosts with another great goal just 4 minutes later. Stocker’s corner came off Jan Vertonghen and met Fabian Frei, who headed past Friedel, to give his side a very significant advantage.

2-0 now and the hosts knew that serious work had to be done. Emmanuel Adebayor managed to give his side something for the half just 6 minutes later when he picked up from Scott Parker and shot from close range. Both teams tried to add goals for their sides in the few minutes that remained in the first half but none of their attempts were successful, at least not for then.

The second half started the same way the exciting first half had ended, with both teams coming out strong and hungry for goals. Youngsters Lewis Holtby and Mohamed Salah were shining for their sides and had early attempts, but none of them bore goals. The hosts finally managed to score an equalizer 13 minutes into the second half, through a strong shot from Gylfi Sigurdsson, deflected by Fabian Schar.

Yann Sommer had no chance of preventing this one from going in, and the game became even more interesting from this point. It was all great attempts and near-goals from then on, with neither side managing to score a winner. It was going to be all to play for in the second leg, especially for the Spurs, who would have to do with an injured Gareth Bale, who had been stretchered off towards the end of this game.

Basel had a total of 20 attempts (including one against the woodwork) on goal, compared to Tottenham’s 11. The visitors had the better chances, but the hosts had managed a great comeback to keep them alive for the second leg. A total of 3 yellow cards were issued between the two teams, the home side picking up 2 of them, and their visitors the remaining 1. No players were sent off during this game.

Andre Villas-Boas and Murat Yakin lined up the following squads:

Tottenham Starting XI

Friedel, Vertonghen, Gallas, Naughton, Assou-Ekotto, Parker (c), Bale, Dembele, Holtby, Lennon, Adebayor

Subs: Lloris, Caulker, Huddlestone, Livermore, Sigurdsson, Dawson, and Dempsey

Basel Starting XI

Sommer, Dragovic, Voser, Schar, Steinhofer, Stocker, Frei, Elneny, Salah, Die, Streller (c)

Subs: Vailati, Ajeti, Sauro, Frei, Zoua, Cabral, and Degen

Final Score: Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Basel 1893

Stocker 30′, Frei 34′ | Adebayor 40′,  Sigurdsson 58′

Written by Ange Marline

Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg Review: Part 4

Chelsea vs. Steaua Bucuresti

Chelsea vs. Steaua BucurestiThe Champions of Europe had a bad game in Romania, having lost 1-0 to Steaua, but were determined to erase that defeat as they prepared to host the same team in the second leg. Steaua, in the same manner, would have to be looking to score away goals in order to progress. It was to be a crucial game for both teams.

Chelsea started their game better and faster, looking to score early and keep Steaua quiet, with attempts coming in from 11 minutes. Steaua, however, did not just sit back and try to defend as they were also trying to create something for themselves. Cech had to make his first save in the 13th minute when Rusescu tried to get his team an away goal.

Attempts from both teams, who had both lined up strong squads for this match, kept coming in, and it was Chelsea who managed to produce something first. Half an hour into the game, Chelsea’s 24-year-old Spanish International, Juan Mata, produced a beautiful goal facilitated by Ramires to level things between the two teams on aggregate. Tatarusanu had tried to save, but had failed, to the delight of the home crowd.

The home side were even more confident now, but the away side weren’t about to give up. A poor attempt to clear by Chelsea allowed Chiriches to finish what Tanase had started near the Chelsea goal and hit the ball into the roof of the net, putting his side ahead on aggregate.

Chelsea knew they had to score at least 2 more goals in the second half, and, after some good football, managed to get a second through a strong header from their captain, John Terry, assisted by a Juan Mata corner. Chelsea had to score one more to prevent their visitors from going through on away goals at their expense.

A strong attack by both teams continued, until Chelsea finally had their third with 20 minutes still to go, when Fernando Torres managed to collect a fine pass from Hazard and shoot past Tatarusanu. Chelsea now looked to win the game by a good margin when they were awarded a penalty in the 87th minute, but Fernando Torres hit the woodwork, leaving things as they were. Chelsea worked for another one, but it wasn’t going to happen and things ended at just that: Chelsea 3-1 Steaua.

Statistic-wise, Chelsea had a total of 13 attempts against their visitors’ 7. Chelsea had better chances and more possession (66% against 34%). The two goalkeepers made 5 saves each. 4 yellow cards (2-a-side) were issued between the two teams. No players were sent off during this game.

Rafael Benitez an Laurentiu Reghecampf lined up the following squads:

Chelsea Starting XI

Cech, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Terry (c), Cole, Ramires, Oscar, Mikel, Hazard, Juan Mata, Torres

Subs: Turnbull, Ferreira, Cahill, Bertrand, Lampard, Moses and Benayoun

Steaua Starting XI

Tatarusanu, Szukala, Latovlevici, Chiriches, Pintilli, Chipciu, Bourceanu (c), Rusescu, Popa, Tanase, Rapa

Subs: Stanca, Gardos, Filip, Prepelita, Iancu, Leandro Tatu, and Adi Sobrinho

Final Score: Chelsea* 3-1 Steaua Bucuresti (Agg: 3-2)

Juan Mata 34′, Terry 58′, Torres 71′ | Chirices 45+1′

Quarter-Finals

Having eliminated Steaua, Chelsea are through to the quarter-finals of the competition and will face Rubin Kazan of Russia as their opponents according to the draw held on March 15th. They will play the first leg of this match at home and the second leg away.

Fenerbahce SK vs. Viktoria Plzen

Fenerbahce SK vs. Viktoria PlzenThe first leg of this game had been very tough for both sides, more so Plzen, who had to overcome the 1-0 deficit in order to progress to the quarter-finals of the competition. Fenerbahce had been tough enough opponents for Vrba and his men, so playing them at home would be even tougher and would demand more for the Czech side who still had a lot to do.

The game started well for the visitors as they looked to score early and even things up, but the hosts started to pick up as well, turning this match into a 50/50 game all the way until the final minutes of the first half. What was to be the only goal of the game for the home side came in the 44th minute from Fenerbahce substitute Salih Ucan (who had come on for Mehmet Topal 9 minutes earlier), with an assist from Pavel Horvath. All Fenerbahce had to do now was hold on for the next 45 minutes.

The second half was better for Plzen, who started stronger and more confident knowing that they still had a chance to win on away goals. Their first one (and what was to be their only one) came in the 61st from Darida, assisted by Kovarik. This goal brought the visitors some hope but the stubborn Fenerbahce defense (and the woodwork just 5 minutes later) prevented them from winning the game on away goals and on aggregate. The last 20 minutes were intense but it was Fenerbahce who managed to only just go through.

Statistic-wise, the visitors had a total of 14 attempts against 11 for the hosts. Both teams had the same number of decent chances, and both goalkeepers were kept busy. A total of 4 yellow cards was issued between the two teams; the home side picking up 1 and the rest going to the visitors. No players were sent off during this game.

Aykut Kocaman and Pavel Vrba lined up the following squads:

Fenerbahce Starting XI

Demirel (c), Irtegun, Yobo, Ziegler, Gonul, Cristian, Sahin, Erkin, Sow, Topal, Kuyt

Subs: Gonuk, Kaldirim, Krasic, Senturk, Ucan, and Korkmaz

Plzen Starting XI

Kozacik, Limbersky, Reznik, Prochazka, Clsovsky, Darida, Kovarik, Kolar, Bakos, Rajtoral, Horvath

Subs: Pavlik, Hejda, Zeman, Adamov, Duris, Fillo, and Tecl

Final Score: Fenerbahce SK* 1-1 Viktoria Plzen (Agg: 2-1)

Salih Ucan 44′ | Darida 61′

Quarter-Finals

Having eliminated Plzen, Fenerbahce are through to the quarter-finals of the competition and will face Lazio of Italy as their opponents, as announced in the draw on March 15th. They will play the first leg of this game at home and the second leg away.

Written by Ange Marline

Europa League Round of 16 First Leg Review: Part 4

Steaua Bucuresti vs. Chelsea

Steaua Bucuresti vs. ChelseaThe Champions of Europe traveled to Romania on the back of an important win against West Bromwich Albion in the English Premier League, meaning they would be confident having eliminated a strong side in Sparta Prague. Their hosts and current league leaders (Romanian Liga 1), Steaua Bucuresti, also went into this game on the back of a comfortable 3-0 win against Gaz Metan Medias in the Liga 1 the previous weekend. They had also made a great comeback against AFC Ajax in the Round of 32, making them the only side to have gone through to the round of 16 having lost in the first leg, and so they had every reason to be confident.

This match started well for the home side, who had their first corner inside only the first minute, their second in the sixth, and their third in the thirteenth, all before Chelsea even had their first. They were in control of the game for most of the first half as Chelsea struggled to settle into the game. Chelsea had their first attempt in the 24th minute when Branislav Ivanovic had a chance to direct a Frank Lampard corner into the net. Oscar had a chance to get an important away goal for his side, but failed as well. What was to be the only goal of the match came in the 34th minute when Ryan Bertrand was penalized for a pull on Raul Rusescu inside the penalty area to earn Steaua a penalty. The Romanian 24-year-old made no mistakes as he drove a strong shot past Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal to put his side ahead. Yossi Benayoun was determined to clear Steaua’s goal by scoring one for his side, but Tatarusanu didn’t think so. Fernando Torres also missed the target as Chelsea desperately looked for an equalizer that didn’t come.

The second half was even more challenging for the defending Champions of Europe as their hosts came out stronger and tougher. Laurentiu’s decision to put Prepelita on for Pintilli was responded to by a Rafael decision to put a fresh Juan Mata on for an off-target Benayoun, strengthening the away side’s attack. Eden Hazard had a chance to get an equalizer for his side, but missed the target and was replaced by Marko Marin just minutes later. Things continued to be tight all the way to the last minute, and Steaua would have a advantage when they would head to West London for the second leg the following week.

Statistic-wise, Steaua had a total of 8 attempts, while Chelsea had 9. The home side had overall less possession than their English visitors (48% and 52% respectively). A total of 3 yellow cards were issued; 1 going to the home side, and 2 to their visitors. No players were sent off during this game.

Laurentiu Reghecampf and Rafael Benitez lined up the following squads:

Steaua Starting XI

Tatarusanu, Szukala, Latovlevici, Rapa, Chiriches, Rusescu, Chipciu, Bourceanu (c), Pintilli, Popa, Tanase

Subs: Stanca, Filip, Iancu, Sobrinho, Prepelita, Tatu, and Gardos

Chelsea Starting XI

Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry (c), Bertrand, Lampard, Oscar, Mikel, Hazard, Torres, Benayoun

Subs: Turnbull, Cole, Ferreira, Cahill, Mata, Marin, and Azpilicueta

Final Score: Steaua Bucuresti 1-0 Chelsea

Rusescu 34′ (pen)

Viktoria Plzen vs. Fenerbahce SK

Viktoria Plzen vs. Fenerbahce SKFenerbahce traveled to the Czech Republic on the back of a defeat to Besiktas in the Turkish Super Lig just 4 days earlier, but they were still as confident as they were supposed to be, having failed to concede while playing away in their previous 3 fixtures. The home side would go into this game on the back of a draw against Banik Ostrava in the Gambrinus Liga the previous weekend. They were also on a 7-game winning run at home in Europe this season, so they would also be very confident going into this game.

The away side started stronger and quicker with their passes, but the home side were playing very comfortably and were able to keep their opponents from doing too much. Kozacik had to make his first save after Fenerbahce had started to threaten but his side weren’t giving their visitors a good time either. The away side, however, were dominating at this stage and so Irtegun and co. had to be very awake. The home side finally got something for their hard work, but Rajtoral hit the woodwork, leaving this very tight between the two teams. Plzen desperately tried to get something before the end of the first half with decent attempts from Horvath and Darida, but it just wasn’t going to happen.

The same game continued in the second half, but the away side seemed hungrier, and this continued for the remainder of the game. Sow, who had been very good on the night made a decent attempt, forcing a Kozacik save once again. Bakos made way for Tecl as the home side became more and more vulnerable. It was all 50/50 from there until Fenerbahce’s break came at just 9 minutes to full time through Webo, having picked up the pieces off a Sow attempt that Kozacik had saved. The away side got just what they had wanted and the Czech side was stunned.

Statistic-wise, Fenerbahce had a bigger slice of the possession (55% against 45%) and overall more attempts (18 against 6), meaning that Kozacik had to make more saves (7) than his Turkish counterpart, Demirel (0) in the Fenerbahce goal. Only 1 yellow card was issued during this game, and it went to the Turkish side. No players were sent off during this match.

Pavel Vrba and Aykut Kocaman lined up the following squads:

Plzen Starting XI

Kozacik, Reznik, Prochazka, Rajtoral, Clsovsky, Kolar, Horvath (c), Darida, Kovarik, Bakos, Duris

Subs: Pavlik, Koncal, Zeman, Adamov, Tecl, Fillo, and Hejda

Fenerbahce Starting XI

Volkan Demirel (c), Irtegun, Yobo, Ziegler, Gonul, Cristian, Sahin, Webo, Sow, Kuyt

Subs: Gunok, Kesimal, Ucan, Sentur, Simsek, Erkin, and Topuz

Final Score: Victoria Plzen 0-1 Fenerbahce

Webo 81′

Written by Ange Marline

Europa League Round of 32 Second Leg Review: Part 7

Fenerbahçe vs. BATE Borisov

Fenerbahçe vs. BATE BorisovThe first leg, having ended in a goalless draw, meant that anything was still possible, for BATE especially, because all they needed to do was score one away goal and their hosts to score two. This also meant that Fenerbahçe had to look for a goal in their own back yard to avoid a long night. The home side’s goal came thanks to a well-taken penalty by Cristian just before half-time, and with the way they’d been able to hold their opponents, all they needed to do was keep their strong defense going. Both teams had an almost equal number of chances and were both very motivated to progress to the next round. With the little edge Fenerbahçe had at home, however, they were able to cut BATE’s hopes short and get the spot themselves.

It was a busy night in Istanbul for Antony Gautier, who had to issue 11 yellow cards and 1 red card between the two teams. The visitors had to play more than 70 minutes with ten men as Baga was sent off after his second yellow after only 20 minutes. He was the only player to get sent off during this match.

Aykut Kocaman and Viktor Goncharenko lined up the following squads:

Fenerbahçe Starting XI:

Volkan Demirel (c), Egermen Korkmaz, Yobo, Ziegler, Gokhan Gonul, Mehmet Topal, Cristian, Salih Ucan, Sow, Kuyt, Webo

Subs: Mert Gunok, Serdar Kesimal, Recep Niyaz, Stoch, Semih Senturk, Caner Erkin, and Selcuk Sahin

BATE Starting XI:

Gorbunov, Filipenko, Gayduchik, Hleb, Olekhnovich, Rudik, Baga, Yurevich (c), Volodko, Rodionov, Bordachev

Subs: Soroko, Polyakov, Badoyan, M. Volodko,  Aleksievich, Pavlov, and Mozolevski

Final Score: Fenerbahçe* 1-0 BATE Borisov (Agg: 1-0)

Cristian 45′ (pen)

Round of 16:

Having eliminated BATE, Fenerbahçe will face Plzen in the round of 16. They will play the first leg of this game away and the second leg at home.

Hannover 96 vs. Anzhi Makhachkala

Hannover 96 vs. Anzhi MakhachkalaThe first leg of this game was one of the most exciting of the first leg matches, and one of the factors contributing to this was the number of goals scored. I didn’t expect to see so many goals in the second leg, but I anticipated an exciting match all in all.

Anzhi had already almost sealed their spot in the round of 16, having scored 3 goals in the first leg, but Hannover were still very tough opponents at the Hannover Arena in Germany as they had been in Russia, maybe even tougher! The visitors still had a slight edge over them in the end, but they weren’t easy at all to get past. They had more attempts, but most of them were off target, and although the same was for their visitors, they had better chances. This game was very tight, and had there been a different result for Anzhi in the first leg, things would’ve been very different in the second  as well. Hannover scored first, but it didn’t cost their visitors too much as they were able to hold them until the end, even scoring another one for themselves as well.

A total of 9 yellow cards were issued during this match, but no players were sent off.

Mirko Slomka and Guus Hiddink lined up the following squads:

Hannover Starting XI:

Zieler, Djourou, Schulz (c), da Silva Pinto, Huszti, Pocognoli, Ya Konan, Abdellaoue, Diouf, Sakai, Schmeiedebach

Subs: Miller, Haggui, Chahed, Nikci, Sobiech, Schlaudraff, and Rausch

Anzhi Starting XI:

Gabulov, Eschenko, Joao Carlos, Logashov, Ewerton, Jucilei, L. Diarra, Ahmedov, Boussoufa, Eto’o (c), Willian

Subs: Pomazan, Tagirbekov, Agalarov, Smolov, Traore, Shatov, and Carcela-Gonzalez

Final Score: Hannover 96 1-1 Anzhi Makhachkala* (Agg: 2-4)

Da Silva Pinto 70′, Traore 90′+9

Round of 16:

Having eliminated Hannover, Anzhi Makhachkala will face Newcastle United (once again) in the round of 16. They will play the first leg of this match at home and the second leg away.

Written by Ange Marline

BATE Borisov vs. Fenerbahce

Europa League Round of 32 First Leg Review: Part 7

BATE Borisov vs. Fenerbahce SK

BATE Borisov vs. FenerbahceBoth these two teams proved to be worthy to be in this competition when they met on February 14th. Both teams were stubborn in defense and completely prevented each other from scoring; hence the goalless draw at the end of the night! Statistic-wise, BATE were much stronger going by attempts (15 against 3), and I think that the one man advantage for practically the whole length of the game also helped the Belarus team. Alan Kelly issued a total of 4 yellow cards and 1 red card between the two teams; one yellow card to BATE and the rest to their Turkish counterparts. Raul Meireles of Fenerbahce was the only player to be sent off during this match early on in the 4th minute.

Viktor Goncharenko and Aykut Kocaman lined up the following squads:

BATE Starting XI:

Gorbunov, Yurevich (c), Radkov, Bordachev, Filipenko, Volodko, Oleknovich, Rudik, Hleb, Rudionov, Baga

Subs: Soroko, Gayduchik, Badoyan, Vlodko, Pavlov, Kurlovich, and Mozolevski

Fenerbhace Starting XI:

Volkan Demirel (c), Korkmaz, Irtegun, Ziegler, Gonul, Topal, Meireles, Cristian, Sow, Webo, Kuyt

Subs: Mert Gunok, Serdar Kesimal, Stoch, Senturk, Selcuk Sahin, Ucan, and Erkin

Final Score: BATE Borisov 0-0 Fenerbahce

Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Hannover 96

Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Hannover 96This fixture was one of the few fixtures to have 4 or more goals on the night of February 14th. It was not only exciting from start to finish, but also a little dramatic as well! After having gone down early, the turn-around by the Russian team was very entertaining, and they showed that they’re not a team to rule out when thinking about who could win the competition this season. Statistic-wise, Anzhi were stronger and had more attempts than Hannover (16 against 9). Both teams had great chances, but it was Anzhi who were to emerge victorious at the end of it all. Only two yellow cards were issued between the two teams; one to each. No players were sent off during this match.

Guus Hiddink and Mirko Slomka brought out the following squads:

Anzhi Starting XI:

Gabulov, Eschenko, Joao Carlos, Zhirkov, Ewerton, Jucilei, Ahmedov, Diarra, Willian, Boussoufa, Eto’o (c)

Subs: Pomazan, Tagirbekov, Logashov, Gadzhibekov, Shatov, Smolov, and Carcela-Gonzalez

Hannover Starting XI:

Zieler, Schmiedebach, Djourou, Schulz, Chahed, Pocognoli, Da Silva Pinto, Huszti, Ya Konan, Diouf, Schlaudraff

Subs: Miller, Haggui, Sakai, Nicki, Abdellaoue, Sobiech, and Pander

Final Score: Anzhi Makhachkala 3-1 Hannover 96

Huszti 22′, Eto’o 34′, Ahmedov 48′, Boussoufa 64′

Written by Ange Marline

Vitali Rodionov

Europa League Round of 32 Preview: Part 7

Anzhi Makhachkala (Russia) vs. Hannover 96 (Germany)

Mame DioufAnzhi, one of the big boys in the Russian Premier Liga, only just managed to go through to the Round of 32 of this competition thanks to a strong performance in a difficult Group A. Having lost only twice in their Europa League campaign this season, they bagged 10 points at the group stages to progress next to Liverpool FC. Guus Hiddink’s men were tough opponents throughout the competition, but the round of 32 holds a lot more pressure than the group stages; a fact that brings about the question of whether or not they’re strong enough under pressure. Doing rather well domestically this season, Anzhi won’t be looking to lose their form in Europe.

Hannover, on the other hand, being relatively stronger in Europe than their opponents but weaker domestically, managed to finish top of Group L in the group stages of the competition; and all this without a single loss! Mirko Slomka’s men are going to be serious contenders for the title this year!

Key Players

The first player to pop into the picture when anyone mentions Anzhi to me is Cameroonian international, Samuel Eto’o, surely! Having scored 3 in 6 for Anzhi in the Europa League this season, he’s going to be a threat to the Hannover defense. Lacina Trore has had a magnificent season domestically, and will return from the Africa Cup of Nations with a desire to win trophies he didn’t manage to win with Ivory Coast this year. He’s scored 9 goals in 16 games for Anzhi domestically (RPL). Having lost Chris Samba to QPR, Anzhi will need to look for someone to fill that void in defense as well in the Europa League so as to be able to avoid conceding to a strong Hannover side.

Hannover’s Mame Diouf will be closely watched by the Anzhi defense because of his growing form and his consistency in front of goal. Being as he’s the top scorer for Hannover in both the Bundesliga and the Europa League this season, he’s going to be an asset for Slomka’s men. He scored 3 goals in 4 appearances for Hannover in the Europa League and has scored 9 goals and assisted 4 in 17 matches for Hannover in the German Bundesliga this season. He’s definitely one to look out for! Didier Ya Konan had also been sensational in terms of goals in the Europa League this season, having scored three goals in 5 appearances for Slomka’s side. He scored one goal in three matches for Ivory Coast, as well as kept a strong form in the Bundesliga, despite having scored only 2 goals in 16 matches for Hannover. Winger, Szabolcs Huszti is also going to pose a threat to Anzhi, as he’s been in great goalscoring and providing from for his club domestically and in the Europa League as well; he’s scored 7 and assisted 10 in 19 games in the German Bundesliga this season. He’s also scored four goals in 8 appearances for Hannover in the Europa League this season…Impressed yet?

Prediction

My prediction for the first leg of this game to be played in Moscow would be Hannover win. For the second leg of this game to be played in Hannover, I predict a draw.

1st Leg: Anzhi Makhachkala 1-3 Hannover 96
2nd Leg: Hannover 96 1-1 Anzhi Makhachkala

BATE Borisov (Belarus) vs. Fenerbahçe SK (Turkey)

Vitali RodionovViktor Goncharenko and his men go into this competition’s round of 32 pumped with the confidence any team that has played in the Champions League going into the Europa League possesses. Despite having lost most of their matches and being kicked out of the UEFA Champions League in a difficult Group F where Bayern Munich and Valencia emerged victors, the Champions of Belarus are not going to be a walkover. Why? Because they’re the team that beat last season’s runners-up, FC Bayern Munchen this season! Although things went downhill after that, there’s no reason BATE shouldn’t be one of the contenders for this year’s Europa League.

Aycut Kocaman’s men, having suffered the same fate in the the very early qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League, although to a slightly less embarrassing extent, were a very strong side in the Europa League. They finished top of their group with 13 points from 6 games and lost only once in their Europa League campaign. They have also been a very strong side in the Super Lig and are very strong contenders for this year’s trophy.

Key Players

Vitali Rodionov and Renan Bressan were the top scorers for Goncharenko’s side in the UEFA Champions League before their elimination from their competition, having both scored twice in 6 matches for BATE. Renan is now, however, an Alania Vladikavkaz player; 28 days and counting! Vitali and Dmitri Mozolevski will probably have to pick up from there in what concerns BATE attack. For Fenerbahçe, Dirk Kuyt is going to be a strong force, as will be Moussa Sow. I think many eyes will also be on Brazilian midfielder, Cristian, as well as Portuguese international and Champion of Europe with Chelsea, Raul Meireles.

Prediction

My prediction for the first leg of this game to be played in Grodno would be a draw. For the second leg of this match to be played in Istanbul, my prediction would be a win for Fenerbahçe.

1st Leg: BATE Borisov 2-2 Fenerbahçe
2nd Leg: Fenerbahçe SK 3-1 AC BATE Borisov

Written by Ange Marline