Gaziantepspor again defied expectations as they overwhelmed an under-strength AS Roma side in their UEFA Cup third-round first-leg match at the Kamil Ocak stadium, running out 1-0 winners thanks to Yusuf Simsek's 19th-minute goal.
Roma coach Fabio Capello had some serious decisions to make before kick-off. Attacking trio Francesco Totti, Antonio Cassano and Vincenzo Montella were all left at home, so Marco Delvecchio and John Carew started up front. With Ivan Pelizzoli and Vincent Candela also out, and Walter Samuel and Emerson only fit enough for the bench, Roma fielded an inexperienced side.
Gaziantepspor brought recent signings Hakan Bayraktar and Yusuf Simsek into their UEFA Cup side for the first time this campaign and the latter was to have a big impact. The home side certainly started the more positively, spurred on by the enthusiastic home support.
Yusuf Simsek gave Roma a hint of what was to come as he broke well from midfield to find himself unmarked in the Roma box. Ilman Ozbay picked him out with a cross from the right, but much to deputy goalkeeper Carlo Zotti's relief, the midfield player contrived to head the ball wide.
On 19 minutes, Yusuf Simsek made up for that miss by giving the hosts the lead. Bülent Bölükbasi broke well on the left to stretch the Roma defence, before a clever first-time pass from Ziad Jaziri gave Yusuf Simsek the chance to elude his marker and stroke the ball into the net.
Roma struggled to fashion any clear chances in the first half, with both Carew and Delvecchio being caught offside when clean through. Gaziantepspor's Bulgarian striker Zdravko Lazarov could even have doubled the lead with a powerful 27th-minute header but did not find the target.
After the break, Roma seemed to show more commitment going forward, but the majority of the chances still fell Gaziantepspor's way. Only three minutes in, Lazarov was guilty of failing to test Zotti after going clean through, instead allowing Traianos Dellas to dispossess him with ease.
Roma did have their chances, with Daniele de Rossi and Dellas both guilty of spurning time and space in the box with shots off target. However, only an incredible double miss from Samuel Johnson prevented Gaziantepspor doubling their lead, as he first hit the bar before squandering what looked like a simple rebound. A flurry of late half-chances went begging for Roma, who will now be desperate to turn things around in the second leg.