Beşiktaş JK left it late to secure a 1-0 victory in their UEFA Europa League Group L opener against PFC CSKA Sofia.
Play-off defeats for Galatasaray AŞ and Fenerbahçe SK left Beşiktaş as the competition's only Turkish representatives and Bernd Schuster's side looked to be feeling such a burden for much of a cagey fixture. The former Real Madrid CF coach breathed a sigh of relief in the final minute, though, when former Santiago Bernabéu charge Guti laid on Fabian Ernst for a late winner.
By comparison, an opening period lacking in inspiration was lit up just once, again by Ernst, who provided a welcome moment of incision just seven minutes in with a pass which left Filip Hološko running away from goal despite its admirable deftness. It mattered not, however, for the Slovak striker pirouetted into space with one touch and fired only centimetres over with his next.
For all his influence, Ernst nearly cost his side on the hour. The German midfielder's lackadaisical clearance allowed Cillian Sheridan to steal in unnoticed and turn Marquinhos's free-kick narrowly over. That chance served to spur Schuster's side into action, Rodrigo Tabata providing the long-awaited thrust into the penalty area only for his deliberate shot to be denied by the fingertips of Raïs M'Bolhi.
The French goalkeeper was again on hand to smother Roberto Hilbert's looping volley moments later but was thereafter untroubled; a scarcity of movement, a reluctance to gamble and a lack of creative spark ensuring the score remained goalless – until Ernst rose to meet Guti's floated free-kick with impeccable timing.
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