Arsenal guns down Fenerbahçe’s CL hopes with 3-0 win in Istanbul
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News / Agence France-Presse
Dirk Kuyt and his teammates were to slopy against an Arsenal confornted to the wrath of their fans after a poor league debut. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELFenerbahçe will have a mountain to climb to reach the group stages of the Champions League after being crushed 3-0 by an efficient Arsenal at their caldron of Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium in the first leg of the playoffs.
The Gunners with second-half goals from Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud on penalty buried the Yellow Canaries’ hopes on returning among the European football elite after a very successful Europa League run last year.
Both team were looking to bounce back after poor league debuts during the last weekend and were threatened with the wrath of their fans in case of another bad performance.
A relieved Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports: “It was a good performance in a heated atmosphere.
“We controlled the match and after the disappointment of the weekend we’re in a strong position now. It was vital to get off on the right foot and that’s what we did.”
Ramsey added: “It was not the ideal start to the Premier League but we bounced back tonight - we have been criticised but we remained switched on. I’m feeling confident at the moment.”
“We look very comfortable now for the second leg.”
Winger Theo Walcott, looking ahead to the return leg, said: “We can’t be complacent and have to be professional to get the job done.”
Fenerbahçe was already handed a tough road to the Champions League, since European football’s governing body, UEFA, handed the Istanbul club a two-year suspension from competitions after a match-fixing case. However, Fenerbahçe was given a go-ahead after Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) issued a stay of execution of the ban until it completes its verdict on the Yellow Canaries. CAS is expected to announce its verdict next week.
However, with the three-goal win, Arsenal virtually saved UEFA from a headache.
The first half was more charged politically than football-wise as Fenerbahçe fans chanted Gezi protest slogans during the 34th minute – symbolically referring to Istanbul’s plate number.
Ramsey scores on erroneous Volkan
The breakthrough after a dull opening half arrived in the 51st minute when Ramsey played in Theo Walcott down the right wing and the winger’s cross was allowed to reach Gibbs who crashed the ball into the roof of the net.
Ramsey then scored a fortunate second goal with 24 minutes left when Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Volkan Demirel, who was the team’s savior during the preliminary round games against Red Bull Salzburg, inexplicably allowed a routine shot from outside the box slip under his hands.
Giroud then planted a confident penalty in the top left hand corner after Michal Kadlec brought down Walcott on 77 minutes that has virtually put the tie beyond doubt.
The African power trio Moussa Sow, Pierre Webo and Emanuel Emenike, who came from the bench, rarely threatened the Arsenal goal and Arsene Wenger’s team cruised for an unexpectedly easy victory in Istanbul. The second leg is set for Tuesday Aug. 27 at the Emirates Stadium.
Elsewhere Wednesday, there were 1-1 stalemates at the encounters between Steaua Bucharest and Legia Warsaw, and Schalke 04 and PAOK.
Swiss side Basel, beaten by Chelsea in the Europa League semi-finals last season, saw off Ludogorets Razgrad 4-2 while Austria Vienna defeated Dinamo Zagreb 2-0.