Gençlerbirligi SK deservedly made progress into the UEFA Cup second round when they drew 1-1 away at Ewood Park against Blackburn Rovers FC to earn a 4-2 aggregate victory.
Having defended with stout resolution while riding their luck as the English Premiership side twice hit the woodwork, Gençlerbirligi then managed to stifle Blackburn's cheers immediately after going behind on the night. Within 60 seconds of Matt Jansen reducing the deficit, Mustafa Özkan had wiped it out at the other end and although Rovers kept on pressing, hitting the bar for a third time, that blow put an end to their hopes.
Blackburn will reflect that they did not show quite enough quality in the penalty area when it mattered most and Corrado Grabbi will have to relive for some time his three misses in front of an inviting net.
Also at fault
Apart from his goal Jansen hit the bar on two occasions but was also at fault when shooting wide of the posts as early as the fourth minute. A goal then and the entire course of the evening might have been different.
"How can I ask my players to give me more than they've given me tonight?" asked Blackburn manager Graeme Souness. "The 3-1 result out there has killed us and we've paid the price. I know the supporters are frustrated but you can multiply that 20 times and that's how I feel right now."
Souness made four changes from the side that lost in Ankara and also had to discount Andy Cole who was suffering from a neck injury. The visitors were without goalkeeper Gökhan Tokgöz who picked up a shoulder injury in the first game.
Replacement keeper Damir Botonjic was immediately under siege in a whirlwind start in which Jansen shot wide, Brett Emerton had strong appeals for a penalty turned down, Jansen fired against the bar and Grabbi missed poorly from the rebound. Souleymane Youla then missed from a rare Gençlerbirligi raid but the two goals he delivered in the first game were to prove decisive as the visitors began to tighten up in defence.
Early in the second half David Thompson shot powerfully against the underside of the bar though hope emerged for Blackburn in the 65th minute as substitute Dwight Yorke sent the ball across from the right. At the second attempt, Jansen found a way through the thicket of red shirts.
However Gençlerbirligi immediately went to the other end where Özkan got the better of Steven Reid and played the ball into the near post. Özkan continued his run and as the ball came back to him once more he delivered.