Thursday, February 22, 2007

2-Goal Revenge: Fener, AZ Draw 2-2; Fener Eliminated




Fenerbahce's Centennial hopes of European success have ended following a 2-2 draw in Holland vs. AZ Alkmaar. Unlike the first leg, it was Fener who got off to a quick start today and gained the two-goal advantage. But just like the first leg, the home team came back from being down two goals to tie it up, and it was enough for AZ to advance in the UEFA Cup. A game that looked so promising for Fenerbahce ended in despair.

Fenerbahce limited AZ Alkmaar to only one shot in the first half, while Fener struck gold twice from the feet of Tumer Metin in the 21st minute and Alex de Souza in the 34th minute. Fenerbahce controlled the game for much of the first half. Tumer's goal came from a cross from the foot of Mateja Kezman, and Metin nailed it from just outside the penalty area to put Fener ahead 1-0. Thirteen minutes later, Kezman, who missed the first leg, again sent a cross to Alex de Souza in the middle of the box allowing Alex to score and put Fener up 2-0. The goal was Fenerbahce's fourth straight in the series, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to take a 5-3 aggregate advantage.

After the break, AZ made some crucial substitutions and began an immediate attack, while Fener played a bit pensively. Zico's men appeared to be playing to "not lose" rather than keep up the attack and win the game. Finally, in the 63rd minute, Maarten Martens scored for AZ, bringing them only one goal away from advancing. Fenerbahce again shrugged a bit on the pitch, while AZ kept up their attack. Fenerbahce seemed to be playing for their lives, rather than playing like a team with the advantage looking to pick up an insurance goal. The Fener defense held strong despite the attack for most of the second half, and Volkan Demirel made some crucial saves in goal for Fener. As the second half wound down, the desperation began to settle in, but it seemed both teams were becoming desperate rather than just AZ Alkmaar. The momentum had clearly shifted to the Dutch outfit, and Fener was hanging on for dear lives. Finally, only four minutes from regulation, Barry Opdam headed in a free kick from the right off the foot of Julian Jenner to tie the game at 2-2 and complete the comeback for AZ. Despite there being enough time for another goal, it was easy to see that there would be no comeback for the Yellow Canaries tonight. The game ended at 2-2, as did Fenerbahce's European hopes in their 100th year.

Fenerbahce had more shots on goal in the game - ten, compared to only seven for AZ. Six of those were on target for Fener, but AZ goalkeeper Boy Waterman was again fantastic in goal for the Dutch side. AZ committed 13 fouls in the game, compared to ten for Fenerbahce. Corner kicks were nearly even for both teams, with AZ having seven opportunities from the corner and Fener having eight. Ball control percentage skewed tremendously in the second half to AZ, and they ended up having possession for 59% of the time compared to only 41% for Fenerbahce. Deniz Baris and Stephen Appiah both picked up yellow cards for Fenerbahce. Opdam and Steinsson acquired yellows for AZ.

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