Besiktas JK scraped through to a UEFA Cup quarter-final meeting with either S.S. Lazio or Wisla Kraków after a 4-3 aggregate victory against SK Slavia Praha, who were denied a place in the last eight when referee Domenico Messina disallowed a goal during added time at the Inönü stadium.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg in Prague, Besiktas slowly came to life and after going ahead on the night just before half-time, three goals in ten second-half minutes seemed sure to put them on their way. But the Czech side will feel aggrieved after rallying to pull two goals back and then seeing a 30-metre strike from Karel Pitak's free-kick ruled out for offside against Tomáš Hrdlicka in the dying seconds.
Slavia twice went close in the opening quarter of an hour but it was the home supporters who thought they had a goal to celebrate in the 32nd minute. Ahmet Dursun put the ball into the Slavia net from Sergen Yalçin's cross - but the referee spotted him using his fists to punch the ball past goalkeeper Radek Cerny and duly showed the striker a yellow card.
Tayfur Havutçu arrowed a great chance into the side-netting as Besiktas began to play with purpose - and four minutes before half-time the opening goal arrived. Slavia were only able to half-clear a corner and Daniel Pancu pounced 22 metres from goal to rifle a beautiful low drive past the helpless Cerny.
The pendulum swung firmly in the home side's favour a minute after the hour, when a deep corner deflected off Stepan Vachousek and into the path of Ronaldo Guiaro, who rolled the ball inside the far post to give Besiktas an aggregate lead. Five minutes later Ahmet Dursun was given time and space to chest the ball down and slot past Cerny and on 70 minutes it was four when Ilhan raced through and tucked the ball in at the second attempt.
It seemed Besiktas were home and dry but when Evandro Adauto was brought down in the area on 76 minutes, Richard Dostálek slammed in the resulting penalty to give the Czechs hope. Six minutes were left when substitute Hrdlicka met Pitak's corner with a bullet header to set up a grandstand finish and - after Ilhan robbed Cerny at one end but struck the upright with the goalmouth gaping - Pitak thought he had scored a remarkable winning goal at the other.
The referee thought otherwise though and Besiktas were through - to the delight of coach Mircea Lucescu. "
I would like to say a big thank you to my players," he said. "It was a very tough game but it ended fine for us. It is important to be in the last eight teams. We will learn lessons from our mistakes. At 4-0, we relaxed and saw how dangerous Slavia could be."