Beşiktaş freezes Norwegian hopes and joins Trabzonspor to advance in Europa League
Besiktaş's players celebrate after scoring against Tromso during the Europa League qualifying football match between Besiktaş and Tromso at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul. AFP photoBeşiktaş has overcome the first obstacle in its bid to advance to Europa League's group stage by defeating Norway's Tromso 2-0 at Istanbul's Olympic Stadium.
Two back-to-back goals from Hugo Almeida and Oğuzhan Özyakup at the beginning of the second half helped the Black Eagles overturn their deficit from the first leg and clinch a 3-2 aggregate victory.
The Norwegians resisted well during the first half against Beşiktaş's assaults, relying on counter-attacks to threaten Tolga Zengin's goal.
The introduction of young talent Oğuzhan Özyakup by coach Slaven Bilic at the start of second half changed the balance, sharpening Beşiktaş's attacking thrust.
The first goal came through a header by Hugo Almeida in the 52nd minute, after a Manuel Fernandez free kick awarded after a foul committed on Özyakup.
The youngster, who is a product of Arsenal's youth academy, increased the gap two minutes later with a neat shot inside Tromso's area.
Over 70,000 Beşiktaş supporters, who succeeded in giving the impression that Istanbul's gargantuan Atatürk Olympic Stadium was full, made their Gezi protests tribute in the 34th minute, in what is fast becoming a Turkish football tradition.
However, the Black Eagles are still on tenterhooks, as the club is still waiting for a final verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over a one-year suspension ruling. The decision will be given on Aug. 30.
On Aug. 29, Fenerbahçe's final appeal against the approval of a two-year suspension from European competition was rejected. Beşiktaş fans are now holding their breath and are waiting for good news from CAS, ahead of tomorrow's first round draw in Monaco.
Trabzonspor seal hassle-free qualification
Trabzonspor also advanced into the group stage after winning its second leg 3-1 against Albanian rival Kukesi, at its home Avni Aker stadium. Trabzonspor won the first away leg 2-0 last week.
The visitors opened the scoring in the 11th minute through Lazar Popovic after a defensive mistake from Trabzonspor. But the the Black Sea side reacted quickly and found an equalizer three minutes later with Paolo Henrique.
Trabzonspor took the lead after the break thanks to its recent star signing, Florent Malouda. The former French international, who scored a stunning and decisive goal last weekend game, repeated the feat against Kukesi with a spectacular spinning volley in the 54th minute, after receiving a back-heel pass from Henrique.
Henrique brought the curtain down himself in the 66th minute, sealing a relatively hassle-free tie for Trabzonspor.