Beşiktaş downs Liverpool, sets eyes on next opponent Brugge
Beşiktaş players celebrate after the Europa League Round of 32 match against Liverpool in Istanbul. AP photoBeşiktaş has drawn against Club Brugge Feb. 27 in the Europa League Round of 16, following its major victory over Premier League giant Liverpool.
The first leg of the tie will be played on March 12 in Bruges, while the return leg is scheduled for March 19 in Istanbul.
Beşiktaş held its nerve with five imperious penalties Feb. 26, as it knocked Liverpool out of the Europa League at the same Atatürk Olympic Stadium where the visiting side won the 2005 Champions League final.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s a great night for our great club, for Beşiktaş. For Turkish football as well” said triumphant Beşiktaş coach Slaven Bilic.
He said Liverpool “did not have the creation, but we definitely deserve it and we are so proud of our players.”
Brugges knocked out Aalborg of Denmark 6-1 on aggregate.
Beşiktaş chairman Fikret Orman told reporters after the draw that his team’s performance in the Liverpool game was fantastic.
“If we play like yesterday, it will not matter whom we are pitted against,” Orman told reporters in Istanbul Feb. 27. “We have a united team that has the support of the whole country.”
Orman said he was happy Beşiktaş will play Club Brugge.
“We might regard this as a good draw, but any team who can reach the Round of 16 is good,” he said. “We would like to go all the way in the UEFA Europa League.”
Meanwhile Napoli, which beat Spor Toto Super League club Trabzonspor 1-0 Feb. 26 to make it to the next round 5-0 on aggregate, will play Dinamo Moscow in the Round of 16. The Italian club was inspired to UEFA Cup victory by Diego Maradona in 1989.
Everton, the lone British representative remaining in the Europa League, was given a testing tie against Ukrainian outfit Dynamo Kiev.
Roberto Martinez’s side has not reached the later stages of a European competition since it won the 1985 Cup Winners’ Cup, but will have to earn a result in war-torn Ukraine to reach the quarterfinals.
Fiorentina hosts Roma, in the first leg of their all-Italian tie, while holder Sevilla will be on the road at Villareal on March 12 for the first match in a battle of La Liga hopefuls.
Another attractive tie features three-time winner Inter Milan at Wolfsburg in the first matchup between the Serie A giant and the second-place Bundesliga side.
“It will be a tough match and the Round of 16 matches are always tricky and attractive,” said Inter coach Roberto Mancini. “We will work to be at our best. They are the second-best team in the Bundesliga, and they also recently won 4-1 against Bayern,” explained the former Manchester City manager.
Torino travels to Russia for a first-leg matchup against 2008 winner Zenit St. Petersburg.
Ajax, the only domestic champion in the last 16 and the 1992 winner, also travels to Ukraine in a difficult test against Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.
Ukrainian and Russian teams were kept apart following a UEFA decision over the unrest between the two neighbors.
Liverpool will now narrow its focus to domestic competitions.
“We can just now concentrate on our league campaign, which is now going better, and we have an excellent opportunity in other competitions,” said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers after the game.
Liverpool’s Premier League campaign has gathered momentum after a dismal start and it faces Blackburn in the sixth round of the FA Cup in March.
The side must now also pick itself up for a crunch league clash against Manchester City on the weekend.
“I can only give credit to my players,” said Rodgers. “Unfortunately for us, Istanbul has not been a happy place for us tonight.”
“We are disappointed of course to go out in the manner we did,” he said.