Italian Holiday: Fenerbahce Defeats Palermo 3-0
On the day that Americans give thanks for their blessings, Fenerbahce had as much to be thankful for as anyone. The Yellow Canaries blew away the Italian Serie A leaders Palermo 3-0 at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium on Thursday in UEFA Cup action.
Fener had struggled a bit coming into the game, with two consecutive 0-0 draws in the last two Super Lig games. However, Zico again shuffled the lineup which sparked the Canaries. Just 19 minutes in, Stephen Appiah found the back of the net to put Fenerbahce up 1-0. That would be the score heading into halftime, but the second half found the re-energized Fener squad coming out on fire. A goal from Diego Lugano in the 60th minute and another from Tuncay Sanli in the 83rd minute put the game away. Three goals, three points, and tons of confidence for Fenerbahce.
No one needed this win and a clean sheet more than Volkan Demirel. After making a crucial mistake resulting in a goal in Turkiye's 1-1 draw vs. Italy last week, Demirel had been under fire from the Turkish media and Fener fans. As big as the three goals were today, Volkan's clean sheet in goal may have been even bigger. He also owes a lot of credit to the Fenerbahce defense, who prevented Palermo from ever getting comfortable with their offensive schemes.
Zico has faced many questions of late with his substitution and lineup changes. He's benched fan favorite Marco "Mehmet" Aurelio in favor of Deniz Baris. He has tinkered with his front line by trying Kezman alone, then adding Tuncay for support. Offseason signee Deivid de Souza has been relegated to the bench. Despite the lineup changes, Zico has found winning combinations at crucial times. Today was no exception as the Canary lineup came through in the clutch for a crucial three points in UEFA Cup play.
Despite the huge win, there will be little time for celebration. Fenerbahce must travel to Trabzon, one of the toughest venues in the Turkcell Super Lig for a crucial match on Sunday. Surging Galatasaray has moved closer in the standings, and Fener has a fantastic opportunity to distance themselves with a win this weekend and hopefully a win next weekend vs. their rivals.