Champions League – Fenerbahce fight back to stun Chelsea
Chelsea lost their unbeaten record in this season’s Champions League as Fenerbahce came from a goal down to win 2-1 in the first leg of their quarter-final in Istanbul.
FOOTBALL 2007-2008 Champions League Chelsea Fenerbahce-Chelsea – 0
* Matchcast: Fenerbahce v Chelsea
* Photos from Istanbul
The visitors took an early lead at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium thanks to Deivid’s own-goal before substitute and former Sheffield United player Colin Kazim-Richards – now known as Kazim Kazim in Turkey – came off the bench to equalise in the second half.
Deivid then put his earlier slip firmly behind him with a stunning 81st minute strike to give the Turkish side victory on the night and a slight advantage heading into next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.
The results preserves Fenerbahce’s impressive unbeaten home record in European competition this season, but Chelsea will be kicking themselves for having lost a game which they largely controlled.
Avram Grant recalled Florent Malouda – who had been absent from the Blues’ first XI since the FA Cup tie against Barnsley in early March – the Frenchman having suitably impressed while on international duty against England.
Grant has been criticised in some quarters for displaying a perceived lack of tactical nous so far this season but – hot on the heels of his match-winning changes against Arsenal last month – his selection of personnel initially proved justified.
It took just 13 minutes for Malouda to make his mark, even if there was a hint of fortune involved in breaking the deadlock.
But no one in the Chelsea camp was about to argue as the unfortunate Deivid stuck out a boot to reach Malouda’s driven centre, only to succeed in turning the ball into his own net.
In a stadium where the vociferous home fans are widely regarded as good as having a 12th man, an early goal was exactly what was required to take the sting out of the intimidating atmosphere.
Chelsea took confidence from the lucky deflection and the more they grew in stature, the less a factor the crowd became.
Michael Essien, employed at right-back for the night, could have put Chelsea two up soon after the opener, but his terrific 18th minute drive from 25 yards grazed the crossbar with goalkeeper Volkan Demirel beaten all ends up.
Didier Drogba – ploughing a lone furrow up front on his own – headed wide at the far post on 24 minutes before a typically strong turn and shot was beaten away by Demirel on the half-hour mark.
Chelsea continued in the same attacking vein after the break, Ricardo Carvalho heading over the bar from close range and Demirel denying Michael Ballack with a fine stop just before the hour mark.
Fenerbahce coach Zico then proved his own managerial credentials with an inspired substitution that brought his side right back into the game – and the tie.
He sent on Kazim-Richards who, just nine minutes after his introduction, sprung the Chelsea offside trap to take a Mehmet Aurelio through ball perfectly in his stride and fire past Carlo Cudicini.
It was a super strike, and one that turned the game on its head as the crowd instilled a belief into the home players that victory was once again within their reach.
So it proved to be, the win coming with just nine minutes remaining as Deivid unleashed an unstoppable 30 yard shot into the top corner to settle the match – and complete the Brazilian’s redemption.