Fenerbahçe SK are off the mark in UEFA Europa League Group H but FC Sheriff pushed them all the way in Tiraspol.
The first half was tight but eight minutes after the interval Alex broke the deadlock. Fenerbahçe jump to second place, a point behind FC Twente and one ahead of FC Steaua Bucureşti, who they visit on 22 October when Sheriff, bottom, welcome the leaders.
Sheriff held Steaua 0-0 in Romania a fortnight ago but were missing injured defenders Abdul Mamah and José Nadson and early on Fenerbahçe, aiming to bounce back from their 2-1 home defeat by Twente, looked to exploit it. An Uğur Boral cross nearly dipped underneath the crossbar while at the other end Benjamin Balima volleyed just wide while Alexandru Suvorov was denied by Volkan Demirel.
Roberto Carlos, making his 140th European appearance, proved his free-kick prowess is still intact with a low effort that Stanislav Namaşco spilled but recovered before the ball crossed the line. Alex overcame injury to make it to 50 UEFA competition games and the Fenerbahçe captain cut back a corner to Emre Belözoğlu, whose effort was tipped over by Namaşco. Semih Şentürk had the ball in the net but was offside from Emre's cross.
Two minutes into the second half Semih sent Kazım Kazım clear and though his shot flew just over, Fenerbahçe soon had the lead. On the right Semih got around Luis Antonio Rodríguez and to the byline, and cut back to Alex whose finish gave Namaşco no chance. Sheriff substitute Amath Diedhiou twice forced Volkan to save late on but Christoph Daum's side seldom looked like falling foul of a comeback like that which cost them against Twente.