Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fenerbahce Advance on 3-0 Aggregate




Fenerbahce Advance on 3-0 Aggregate
By Nathan L. Redd
Fenerbahce finds themselves on their way to the group state of the UEFA Champions League following a dominant 2-0 win over Anderlecht in Belgium Wednesday. Fenerbahce wins the series on 3-0 aggregate.
Anderlecht had an uphill battle coming into the game, but Mateja Kezman made their task more difficult by finding the back of the net off a corner only three minutes into the game. Anderlecht quickly went into attack mode, needing to find the back of the net three times for hopes of advancing. Twenty-five minutes in Mbark Boussafa hit the crossbar on a powerful shot. Only seven minutes later, Jelle van Damme nearly put the ball in off a header, but Anderlecht had no such luck.
Fenerbahce was feeling confident with the 1-0 lead as the game went on, but in the 74th minute Alex de Souza put the game out of hand with a shot past the Anderlecht keeper for a 2-0 lead, ending the Belgian side's UEFA Champions League stay.
Volkan Demirel, in goal for the injured Serdar Kulbilge, played well and preserved the clean sheet for Fenerbahce. Volkan made several terrific saves that kept Anderlecht off the boards.
Zico went with a starting eleven of Volkan Demirel, Onder Turaci, Diego Lugano, Edu Dracena, Alex de Souza, Mateja Kezman, Deivid de Souza, Roberto Carlos, Mehmet Aurelio, Tumer Metin, and Deniz Baris. Gokcek Wederson came in for Deivid de Souza in the 83rd minute, Colin Kazim-Richards relieved Tumer in the 67th minute, and Selcuk Sahin came in for Alex de Souza in the 75th minute. Deniz Baris, Onder Turaci, and Deivid de Souza all picked up yellow cards for Fenerbahce.
After the game, Deniz Baris said "After our first goal we are really relieved and did not want to risk the score. We won the first match with the result of 1-0, and also won the second match by scoring 2 goals. So we really deserved to be a part of the Champions League. We are really excited about the upcoming matches."
Mateja Kezman has been widely scrutinized by Fenerbahce fans recently, but he took his frustration out after the game. Kezman stated "Today we showed a great performance on the pitch and defeated Anderlecht. We managed to score a goal at the very right time when we needed it the most. After this goal we tried not to risk anything. Finally we scored another goal which led us to the ultimate victory. Here I want to underline the fact that there is a huge pressure on my shoulders. I want everyone to leave me alone, so that I can do my job freely."
Fenerbahce won't have to wait long to find out their next opponent in the UEFA Champions League. The group stage draw will take place on Thursday at 18:00 local time in Monaco. The UEFA Champions League group stage will be played on 18/19 September, 2/3 October, 23/24 October, 6/7 November, 27/28 November and 11/12 December, though AC Milan's last game will be on 4 December due to their participation in the FIFA Club World Cup. The winners and runners-up from each pool will progress to the first knockout round in the spring, with the final set for Moscow on 21 May. Teams finishing third in each section will have the consolation of going into the UEFA Cup Round of 32.
(Photos courtesy of Fenerbahce.org)

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