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Fenerbahçe hold off Partizan to progress

Fenerbahçe SK 2-1 FK Partizan (agg: 4-3)
Semih Şentürk and Alex scored as the hosts returned to the group stage by beating the Serbian champions.

Alex celebrates his decisive goal
Alex celebrates his decisive goal ©Getty Images

Fenerbahçe SK confirmed their place in the UEFA Champions League group stage with a 2-1 victory against Serbian champions FK Partizan at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium to advance 4-3 on aggregate.

Headed goals
Last season's quarter-finalists had battled back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the first leg a fortnight ago but quickly assumed control here. Headed goals from Semih Şentürk on 28 minutes and Alex 13 minutes after half-time appeared to put the tie beyond doubt, and though Zoran Tošić pulled one back for the visitors with 14 minutes left, Partizan ultimately came up short.

Injury problems
Fenerbahçe coach Luis Aragonés came into the match troubled by a lengthy injury list with midfielder Emre Belözoğlu being the latest casualty. A calf problem kept him out of the side, but Fenerbahçe were able to welcome the surprise return of Semih Şentürk following a thigh strain. Yasin Çakmak deputised for the injured Edu in central defence.

Semih Şentürk scores
It took Semih Şentürk nearly half an hour to make a telling contribution, nodding in Uğur Boral's cross from the left. Fenerbahçe lowered the tempo after scoring and though Lamine Diarra posed a threat for the Belgrade club, Partizan were unable to create any meaningful chances. On 58 minutes Fenerbahçe doubled their advantage when Alex headed in Daniel Güiza's centre from the right.

Tošić reply
The second goal forced Partizan to push more men forward and their greater attacking intent paid dividends on 76 minutes when Tošić fired in a free-kick to reduce the arrears. That, though, was as close as they got. Aragonés replaced Semih Şentürk with Önder Turacı to strengthen the defence and Fenerbahçe were able to hold on to their lead to put their name in the hat for Thursday's draw.