Fenerbahçe sent packing from Champions League by comfortable Arsenal

Fenerbahçe sent packing from Champions League by comfortable Arsenal

LONDON - Hürriyet Daily News
Fenerbahçe sent packing from Champions League by comfortable Arsenal

Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey (L) celebrates his goal against Fenerbahçe with Yaya Sanogo during their Champions League soccer match at the Emirates Stadium in London Aug 27. Reuters photo

Fenerbahçe’s faint hopes of reaching the group stage of the Champions League were roundly dashed Tuesday night as Arsenal put them to the sword 2-0, giving the London side a 5-0 aggregate victory.

Though Fenerbahçe showed promise in attack, they were ultimately undone by two strikes from Aaron Ramsey, who scored in each half.

The Yellow Canaries, who were only allowed to enter the competition after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) stayed a match-fixing ban against the side pending a final decision, needed to score an improbable minimum of four goals to overturn its first-leg 3-0 loss at home to Arsenal and went looking for an early goal to unsettle the Gunners. 

The Istanbul side came close in minute 12 when Bacary Sagna’s clearance off a broken play almost ricocheted off Fener’s Raul Meireles and into the net, only for Arsenal’s Polish goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, to save expertly.

Six minutes later, Arsenal’s Olivier Giraud found space outside the area, but his curling effort against Volkan Demirel in the Fener goal failed to find the target.

Selçuk Şahin nearly scored from distance when he belted a shot, but his powerful strike flashed just wide of Szczesny’s upright. 

The Gunners, however, killed much of the drama in the 25th minute, when Ramsey slotted home into an empty goal after the ball squirted loose to him to Volkan’s right.

Fener summer signing Emmanuel Emenike – himself a key figure in the match-fixing case in the 2010-11 before being acquitted in April – nearly restored some pride for Fener late in the first half, only to see his rasping drive rebound off of Szczesny’s left post. Emenike’s solo effort touched off a brief period of effervescence for the visitors, but the Canaries were unable to find a breakthrough that might have given them a boost going into the break despite chances in Arsenal’s area.

But Emenike failed to cover himself in glory in the 55th minute as he picked up a booking for simulation in a vain attempt to win a penalty against an onrushing Szczesny near the Arsenal byline. 

With the proceedings becoming increasingly academic, Fenerbahçe lost some of their urgency, allowing Arsenal to find chances to add a second on the night and a fifth on aggregate. Spain’s Santi Carzola went closest for the Gunners in the 64th minute, but his hard, low shot was excellently palmed out for a corner by Volkan. Theo Walcott also saw his free-kick rebound off Volkan’s bar just four minutes later.

Ramsey then scored his second of the game in the 72nd minute, side-footing home past Volkan following an excellent set-up by Cazorla. The often-erratic Volkan could hardly be faulted for his performance, and though it had no effect on the outcome, he made a stunning save against Carl Jenkinson in stoppage time to at least retain his personal pride.

Arsenal progressed to the Champions League group stage for the 17th consecutive time, while Fener, who have not qualified for the cash-cow competition since the 2008-09 season, will be forced to settle for another appearance in the Europa League – provided CAS does not uphold an earlier ban on match-fixing in a decision that is expected on Wednesday. 

Arsenal will be joined in the group stage by Austria Wien, Basel, Steaua Bucharest and Schalke, who all successfully negotiated their two-legged ties tonight.