Andriy Shevchenko scored a UEFA Champions League record-equalling four goals as AC Milan marked their return to Istanbul in style, sauntering to a 4-0 victory against Fenerbahçe SK to go top of Group E.
Shevchenko missed the decisive spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out that decided last season's UEFA Champions League final, but this always looked like being a happy return to Turkey once he had broken the deadlock on 16 minutes. He added another shortly after half-time, and although he spurned a gilt-edged chance soon after, the Ukrainian silenced the Sükrü Saraçoglu stadium with two goals in six minutes midway through the half, becoming the first player in UEFA Champions League history to score four goals away from home.
Fenerbahçe coach Christoph Daum had fielded a new-look formation to compensate for the three Brazilians he was missing through injury and suspension. He omitted a fourth, striker Márcio Nobre, in favour of a reinforced midfield as he sought to compensate for the absence of suspended ball-winner Marco Aurélio. Captain Ümit Özat switched from the heart of defence to central midfield and, with Fábio Luciano banned, Daum deployed an untried centre-back pairing of Servet Çetin and Deniz Barış.
Spearheaded by Alberto Gilardino and Shevchenko, Milan were quick to test the hosts' unfamiliar back line. The visitors earned two early corners, and peppered the Fenerbahçe area with a series of searching balls, but the locals stood up to the test and soon began to push forward themselves. Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti had also made defensive changes, with Serginho and Dario Šimić replacing the suspended Jaap Stam and injured Cafu, and that duo were found wanting when Ümit drove a shot just over the bar.
But just as the Stephen Appiah-inspired Fenerbahçe were starting to threaten, Milan took the lead. Clarence Seedorf latched on to the ball in midfield and slid it along the greasy surface into the path of Shevchenko. Servet tried in vain to catch the Ukrainian, who coolly slotted between goalkeeper Volkan Demirel's legs for his 50th goal in UEFA club competition. It could have been two six minutes later when a low Seedorf drive forced Volkan into a full-length save as Milan took charge.
Seedorf was proving a constant menace to the Istanbul outfit's shaky defence, and was again the instigator just after the half-hour, knocking a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Rui Costa. The playmaker, introduced as Kaká had hobbled off, blazed over with the goal at his mercy. Shevchenko demonstrated far more poise seven minutes after the restart, feinting past the beleaguered Servet and firing a long-range effort beyond Volkan's despairing dive.
At this stage Dida remained relatively untroubled in the Milan goal, but Fenerbahçe defender Önder Turacı finally forced a save with a blistering strike. It was a brief respite for the home team, and the Rossoneri should have been 3-0 up on the hour when Shevchenko slipped past Servet with ease, but he delayed too long and his eventual effort was cleared off the line by Serkan Balcı. He quickly made amends, and nine minutes later completed his hat-trick, drifting behind the defence to tap in Serginho's low left-wing centre.
Shevchenko soon added a fourth with a crisp finish after substitute Christian Vieri had capitalised on a defensive misunderstanding as Milan went top of Group E. They must still win their final fixture at home to FC Schalke 04 to be assured of a knockout place, while the best Fenerbahçe can hope for is a UEFA Cup berth.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.