Sunday, September 02, 2007

Ankara Anguish: Fener Draws 1-1

Ankara Anguish: Fener Draws 1-1
Fenerbahce's struggles with promoted sides continue
By Nathan L. Redd
Fenerbahce failed to capitalize on Besiktas's draw on Saturday, as the Canaries will return from Ankara with only one point themselves. Fenerbahce and Genclerbirligi OFTASSpor drew 1-1. Genclerbirligi OFTAS nearly scored less than ten minutes in, when goalkeeper Volkan Demirel got just enough hand on a shot to direct it to the right allowing the ball to hit the post and bounce off. Like Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor in week one, Gencler OFTAS came out firing in the first half. The first half was marred by overly-aggressive and sometimes dirty play. Both sides were looking to play a physical style which resulted in heated tempers several times. Three yellow cards were also handed out in the first half alone.
The first half continued scoreless until Alex de Souza found a nice cross from Colin Kazim-Richards to score the first goal right before the break. The second half found Fenerbahce trying to preserve the lead, but the defense found themselves out of position allowing Genclerbirligi OFTASSpor to penetrate the back line numerous times. Fener finally paid for the defensive lapses, as Gencler OFTAS put themselves on the board in the 81st minute with a rocket past Volkan.
Fenerbahce had several chances to set up a potentially winning goal in the final ten minutes, but they found themselves having trouble getting the ball out of the midfield. Several times Fenerbahce had opportunities just outside of the box, but rather than taking a shot they spent too much passing the ball looking for the perfect shot. The over-passing allowed Genclerbirligi OFTASSpor to kill the attack each time. Fener committed so many players forward at times that Genclerbirligi OFTAS's counter-attack often found open field ahead of them with Fener defenders scrambling to keep up. Despite Fenerbahce's attack near the end of time, the Ankara side had several chances themselves to take the lead and send the Yellow Canaries home empty-handed.
Two late shots from Roberto Carlos was all Fener would muster, but both shots were easily saved by the keeper. After four minutes of stoppage time, Fenerbahce and Genclerbirligi OFTASSpor finished with a 1-1 draw.
Match Notes:
Fener defender Edu Dracena left the game less than twenty minutes in with an injured hip. Edu collided with a Genclerbirligi OFTAS player in mid-air and tried to play through the pain, but he was replaced a few minutes later by Yasin Cakmak. No word as of yet on the severity of Edu's injury, but it appears it could be a deep thigh bruise. Edu walked off the pitch on his own.
Fenerbahce's struggles with newly-promoted sides continued. Through four games, Fener has faced two of the three promoted sides, suffering a 2-0 loss to Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor in week one and today drawing 1-1 with Ankara side Genclerbirligi OFTASSpor. Fenerbahce will take on the last of the promoted sides, Kasimpasa, in late October on the road.
Volkan Demirel has been improving in goal during the absence of Serdar Kulbilge. Volkan managed several nice saves in today's game, including an early save that allowed the ball to hit to post preventing what would have been a goal. Last week, Volkan managed a clean sheet in the hostile Belgian environment against UEFA Champions League opponents Anderlecht.
Marco Mehmet Aurelio found himself on the bench to start the game on Sunday rather than his usual starting position. Zico is still trying to find the right starting combination as Fener heads into a crucial UEFA Champions League match against Inter Milan in a few weeks. Aurelio did check into the game early in the second half, replacing Ugur Boral.

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