Fener meets Lazio on verge of making history
Fenerbahçe’s Dutch forward Dirk Kuyt gestures at the end of his team’s 2-0 win over Lazio in the Europa League quarterfinal first leg in Istanbul. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELFenerbahçe looks to protect its two-goal advantage over Lazio tonight to book its place in the Europa League semifinal for the first time.
The Yellow Canaries will meet Lazio at Stadio Olimpico in the Europa League quarterfinal second leg game. Fenerbahçe beat the Italians with two late goals from Pierre Webo and Dirk Kuyt last week.
Fenerbahçe has a considerable advantage after two goals, but Kuyt said that stranger things have happened in football, and the team should avoid complacency.
Kuyt recalled that his former club Liverpool had come back from three goals down against Milan in the 2005 Champions League final, and said the team should be wary of the Lazio challenge.
Tonight’s game will be played behind closed doors due to a ban on Lazio. Fenerbahçe is used to playing silent matches since the club has played two home matches in the competition without its supporters.
Elsewhere, Chelsea can take a step closer to becoming only the fourth side to win all three of UEFA’s major club competitions by cementing a place in the Europa League semi-finals when they travel to Rubin Kazan tonight.
Only Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich can count Champions League, Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Cup triumphs among their list of honors, and Chelsea is well positioned to add its name to that elite group following a 3-1 advantage from the first leg.
“We have established a good lead. We know that the second leg will be difficult away from home, so it was important to get the victory and score three goals,” said Brazilian midfielder Ramires.
“Obviously we want to qualify for the Champions League but we don’t want to forgo the trophies that we are chasing either,” added the 26-year-old.
Tottenham faces a sterner challenge as it makes the trip to Basel to face the Swiss league leader with their last-eight tie evenly poised at 2-2 after Spurs recovered from a two-goal deficit at White Hart Lane last week. Adding to the Spurs’ woes is the absence of Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and William Gallas after the trio all sustained injuries in the first leg.
Benfica will go to Newcastle as the favorite following a 3-1 victory in the Portuguese capital last time out.
Only twice has a side recovered from a two-goal, first-leg deficit since the cup was rebranded four years ago, and Newcastle is unbeaten in 13 European home games.
“In front of our supporters, I’m sure we’ll have chances. Now it’s up to us to control the match well and play the 90 minutes right to the end to try and qualify,” said French midfielder Yohan Cabaye. “It’ll be a whole different atmosphere and I know we can count on our fans.”