Fenerbahçe hosts Salzburg in Champs League qualifier

Fenerbahçe hosts Salzburg in Champs League qualifier

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Fenerbahçe hosts Salzburg in Champs League qualifier

Fenerbahçe midfielder Alper Potuk vies for the ball against his opponent from Salzburg during the first leg game. AP photo

Fenerbahçe hosts Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg tonight, hoping to capitalize on a 1-1 first-leg draw in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.

A last-second penalty goal from Brazilian midfielder Cristian Baroni gave Fenerbahçe a valuable away goal in the first leg game last week.

Before the goal, Salzburg was seemingly heading for a win, thanks to a goal from Brazilian player Alan.
Fenerbahçe was a last-minute addition to the Champions League draw on July 19, after it was handed a two-year ban due to match-fixing by the European football’s governing body, UEFA.

The Yellow Canaries are awaiting a final decision on whether it will be allowed to continue in the competition after initially being banned by UEFA for its role in a 2011 domestic match-fixing scandal. Fenerbahçe has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which provisionally overturned the UEFA ban, allowing the club to be included in the draw, pending a full hearing.

A decision is due to be made on August 28, just one day before the draw for the Champions League group stages takes place. If Fenerbahçe reaches that stage, it could still be excluded before the draw is made.

Despite having the upper hand, Fenerbahçe coach Ersun Yanal underlined what a threat Salzburg can still pose.

“I knew Salzburg were a very capable team and that they don’t waste any time getting forward,” said Yanal, hired to replace Aykut Kocaman in June. “They proved that they are a very good team.”

Leading through Alan’s 68th-minute strike, the Austrian Bundesliga side were within sight of a first-leg home victory only for Cristian to level on the night with a penalty five minutes into added time. Not surprisingly, Salzburg coach Roger Schmidt was left feeling more than slightly bereft. “Of course the result is disappointing because we were the better team and had the better chances by far,” he said.

“Conceding in the last second is incredibly frustrating, but we saw that we can compete against a top side like them,” added Schmidt, whose team looked to have the measure of last season’s UEFA Europa League semi-finalists. “That gives us hope for the second leg. We deserved to be in a better position going into that game, but we’ll give it our best in Istanbul.”

Tonight’s game at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium starts at 9:45 p.m.