A last-gasp equaliser from Abelardo Fernández saved the day for Deportivo Alavés with just seconds remaining of their UEFA Cup second round first-leg game against Besiktas JK at the Mendizorroza stadium.
Outplayed and outfought by Besiktas for much of this first-leg tie, Alavés never seemed likely to grab the goal their efforts, if not the quality of their play, deserved. But Fernandez rose to the occasion sending a bullet-like header past Besiktas goalkeeper Óscar Córdoba deep into added time.
Lacking final touch
Alavés broke forward in great numbers from the start, putting Córdoba under pressure with crosses from both wings, but lacked the final incisive ball. Spanish winger Magno wasted the first real chance of the night after nine minutes when he hit a tame free-kick along the ground and into the arms of Córdoba on the goalline. Ivan Alonso thumped a shot against the post five minutes later as Alavés threatened to overrun their visitors.
Besiktas almost snatched a surprise lead after 23 minutes when Ilhan broke clear of a flat Alavés defence but Richard Dutruel rushed out to save at his feet. Daniel Pancu then missed another first-rate opportunity for Besiktas, chipping wide from ten metres in front of an open goal.
The Turkish side gradually grew in confidence and took the lead after 31 minutes when Kaan Dobra nipped past a static home defence to cut a ball back from the right-hand touchline which defender Antonio Karmona deflected into his own net.
The second half began as a carbon copy of the first 45 minutes, with Alavés largely in possession but failing to trouble their visitors. The tricky Magno missed a golden opportunity to score with 22 minutes remaining when he dribbled through the Turkish defence quite brilliantly only to shoot wide from eight metres.
Late flurry saves game
Besiktas began to control the game as time ran out and a late flurry from Alavés seemed destined to fail until that late and really quite unexpected equaliser.