Broken Fenerbahçe looking for relief against revitalized Konya
AA photoTwo erstwhile Turkish also-rans, Osmanlıspor and Atiker Konyaspor, secured draws against strong rivals in the UEFA Europa League late on Oct. 20, but Istanbul giants Fenerbahçe were sent packing by the Premier League’s Manchester United away.
France’s Paul Pogba struck twice as Manchester United invigorated its Europa League campaign with a classy 4-1 home victory over Fenerbahçe.
Pogba scored a penalty and curled in from distance to take his tally to three goals since his world-record 89 million-pound ($109.1 million) return from Juventus.
Anthony Martial, with another penalty, and Jesse Lingard were also on target as Jose Mourinho’s team secured a win that left them level on six points with Feyenoord at the top of Group A.
“It is three points and that is what we needed,” said Mourinho. “We knew after the first defeat [1-0 at Feyenoord] it was important to get nine points at home and a few more away, so it was a very important victory for us.”
Fenerbahçe replied late on through United old boy Robin van Persie, who tucked in a cross from substitute Emanuel Emenike and was rewarded with applause from all four corners of Old Trafford.
“The first 30 minutes, the game was balanced, with United having more possession, but not creating many chances,” said Fenerbahçe coach Dick Advocaat. “But if you give goals away against a team like United, with the quality they have, you’re asking for problems.”
The result vindicated Mourinho’s decision to make seven changes to the team that had held in-form Liverpool to a 0-0 draw on Oct. 17.
The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford are likely to return for Oct. 23 Premier League trip to Chelsea, after which United host Manchester City in the League Cup.
Fener remains in third spot in Group A with four points, while Feyenoord and Manchester United top the group with six points each. Zorya Luhansk brings up the rear with one point.
Fenerbahçe, meanwhile, will visit Konyaspor, which achieved its first Europa League group points against Portugal’s Braga.
Deni Milosevic scored Konya’s first goal ever in European competition, giving an early lead to his side.
However, Alan picked out Ahmed Hassan for an easy finish to equalize for the visitors.
“Honestly, I regret we could not win,” said Konya coach Aykut Kocaman after the game.
Konyaspor stands at the bottom of Group H, which has been dominated by a Shakhtar Donetsk side that has won all of its three games. Gent has four points and is followed on Braga at two points.
Osmanlıspor surprised Spain’s Villarreal, racing ahead with two goals by Raul Andrei Rusescu in the 23rd and 24th minutes.
The Yellow Submarine, however, fought back from two goals down after Mehmet Güven’s dismissal.
“Looking at the fixtures and standings, I can see that we still have a chance,” said, Osmanlıspor coach Mustafa Reşit Akçay.
Villareal has five points in Group L so far, one point ahead of both Osmanlı and Zurich. Former European champions Steaua Bucureşti have two points.
In the Turkish league, Osmanlıspor will take on Istanbul’s Kasımpaşa on Oct. 23.
Beşiktaş, which shares top spot in the Turkish League with Medipol Başakşehir and Galatasaray with 17 points, will look to draw on its 3-2 Champions League win over Italy’s Napoli away on Oct. 19 before it hosts cellar-dwellers Antalyaspor in the local league on Oct. 23.
Başakşehir will visit Kardemir Karabükspor with the aim of showing that it is not just an early-season pace-setter but an actual contender that could break the Istanbul big three’s stranglehold on the league.
On Oct. 22, Galatasaray will take on Trabzonspor, the Black Sea giant which is experiencing a poor run of form.
Aytemiz Alanyaspor will host Bursaspor while Akhisar Belediye will take on Adanaspor.