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Fenerbahçe edge Sevilla in thriller

Fenerbahçe SK 3-2 Sevilla FC
Substitute Semih Şentürk's 87th-minute goal won the day for the Turkish champions in this five-goal first leg.

Julien Escudé wheels away in delight after scoring
Julien Escudé wheels away in delight after scoring ©Getty Images

Late substitute Semih Şentürk struck with three minutes left to give Fenerbahçe SK the edge over Sevilla FC in both teams' debut appearance in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round.

Narrow margin
Mateja Kežman and Lugano scored early in each half for the hosts yet within minutes both leads had been cancelled out – first by an Edu own goal, then by a close-range Julien Escudé finish. However, Semih Şentürk, only just recovered from a knee injury, was thrown on and his shot deflected off Ivica Dragutinović to put the Turkish champions in front ahead of the return a fortnight hence in Spain.

Big chill
With the Sükrü Saraçoglu Stadium snowbound until Tuesday, and frantic work having been needed to make the pitch playable, Sevilla coach Manuel Jiménez selected his lineup based on the previous night's training session. Those players who had coped best made the cut. When Duda, who obviously did enough to earn his first UEFA Champions League start, forced a fifth-minute corner that was only half-cleared, Frédéric Kanouté hit a shot which Volkan Demirel was well-positioned to save.

Early breakthrough
Nonetheless, the first goal came at the other end, from another player to have staked a recent claim for first-team action. Kežman endured a frustrating autumn with a knee problem that required surgery, but he has hit form this month. Just past the quarter-hour mark, he rose at the far post to head in a teasing left-wing centre from Uğur Boral. The first equaliser was not long in coming. Edu, who had inadvertently opened the scoring for PFC CSKA Moskva in Fenerbahçe's 3-1 win in December, suffered similar misfortune when he stretched to cut out a right-wing Daniel Alves cross only to turn the ball past Volkan Demirel.

It took fully ten minutes for Zico's Fenerbahçe to get the wind back in their sails. Then, only goalline acrobatics from Andrés Palop denied a Mehmet Aurélio header following another probing Uğur Boral ball. When Sevilla immediately broke, Edu redeemed himself by heroically blocking a Jesús Navas shot. In fact, the Fenerbahçe centre-back nearly cancelled out his unlucky strike altogether but Palop stopped his header and Alex lashed the rebound into the side-netting.

Level pegging
With Sevilla beginning the second period in the same positive mindset as the first, Duda and Kanouté both made Volkan Demirel work. Yet once again Fenerbahçe got themselves ahead. Uğur Boral tenaciously won a corner on the left that Alex placed perfectly for Lugano to climb and nod in from close to the penalty spot. Jiménez's side visibly needed a lift so the Sevilla coach sent on Diego Capel for Duda. And within three minutes the youngster's corner was flicked on by Christian Poulsen for Julien Escudé to power in a volley that nearly took out the back of the net. To make matters worse for the home team, Roberto Carlos suffered a deep cut to his shin and was replaced by Gökçek Vederson.

Super sub
But having required five group-stage campaigns to get this far, Fenerbahçe were still keen to snatch an advantage to take to Seville and Kazım Kazım was introduced, followed by Semih Şentürk. It was the latter's strike from just inside the box that skidded past Palop, via Dragutinović, for the late winner.

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