Fenerbahçe advances to the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League after 1-0 victory
Brazilian midfielder Christian Baroni scored the solitary goal of the game on a penalty in the injury time of the first half. AA photo
Fenerbahçe, deprived of its supporters due to a UEFA ban, advanced to the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League with a 1-0 win Feb.21 against Belarus champions BATE Borisov in an empty Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium. Brazilian midfielder Christian Baroni scored the solitary goal of the game on a penalty in the injury time of the first half.
The Yellow Canaries moved to the next round in aggregate, after salvaging a 0-0 draw against the Belarusian side last week during a game in which the Istanbul side played virtually all the game with 10 men.
Almost the opposite scenario happened on Feb.21, as this once BATE Borisov was down to 10 men in the 20th minute as Dimitri Baga was sent off for a dangerous tackle to Fenerbahçe's young promise Salih Uçan. The Istanbul side took the possession from that minute on and started to enjoy goal opportunities. In the 36th minute, former Liverpool player Dirk Kuyt's center was deflected by the goalkeeper, Andrei Gorbunov, before it found Pierre Webo. In the 38th minute Gökhan Gönül assisted the Senegalese striker Moussa Sow, but Gorbunov managed to send the ball into the corner.
Sow had another clear scoring opportunity in the 44th but his shot went just wide over the bar. A minute later, Gorbunov fouled the Senegalese in a one-on-one inside the penalty area. The French referee Antony Gautier showed the penalty spot and Baroni converted it to make 1-0.
BATE Borisov's most dangerous opportunity came right after half time. Filipp Rudik picked up a magnificent back heel pass from former Barcelona and Arsenal player Alexander Hleb and hit a shot but Volkan Demirel managed to punch the ball into the corner in the 46th minute.
In the 52th it was Fenerbahçe who came close to doubling the score, when Webo cut an unstoppable low center for Baroni. The Brazilian's shot hit the crossbar.
BATE Borisov started to take more risks in the last 10 minutes of the game, as an away goal would make them advance to the last 16. Fenerbahçe's Kuyt missed a clear opportunity in a counterattack one minute in the injury time, but Baroni's goal was enough for the Turkish side’s joy.
Fenerbahçe will now play the Czech side Viktoria Plzen, who defeated their strong Italian rivals Napoli 2-0 after having won the first match 3-0 last week.