Fenerbahçe vs. Lazio: Final score 2-0, Fener leave it late

Alex Grimm

Fenerbahçe left it late, but two goals in the final fifteen minutes gave them a deserved 2-0 victory over Lazio, putting them in a commanding position ahead of the second leg in Rome.

In the typically intimidatory atmosphere of the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium Lazio tried to play on the break, though eventually they crumbled under the pressure exerted by the home side, not helped by a second half red card.

Fenerbahçe almost got off to an excellent start, when midfielder Cristian played a simple route-one ball over the top of the defence. Moussa Sow managed to get on the end of it, though he scuffed his shot under pressure before he could test Federico Marchetti.

The game was disjointed in its opening moments, with neither team able to keep hold of the ball. Lazio striker Ederson was the first player to test a goalkeeper after ten minutes, though his weak header was easily plucked out of the air by Volkan Demirel.

The Italians had a reasonable penalty shout a couple of minutes later when Ederson was blocked off by a defender, though the referee saw nothing wrong. The penalty claim was indicative of how the majority of the half would play out -- with Fener in control of possession and Lazio looking to soak up pressure and counter.

The first clear-cut chance fell to the hosts just after a quarter-of-an-hour, when Senad Lulić's cross was blocked into the path of Sow, who took the shot first time from point-blank range. Marchetti made a great save to tip it against the post, with the scores staying level.

Despite bright interplay between the Fenerbahçe attacking duo of Sow and Pierre Webó, neither side could break the deadlock, with Lazio managing to maintain their sturdy defensive shape throughout the half.

However, the aquile were dealt a hammerblow minutes after the restart when their young midfielder Ogenyi Onazi was sent off for a second bookable offence, seconds before Raul Meireles curled a low shot against the post from the edge of the area. Having dominated possession for most of the game, Fener could surely make the extra man count.

They were completely controlling play, and Meireles forced a diving stop from Marchetti with a rocket from outside the box. Lazio only half troubled with a couple of long-range efforts by Hernanes, and an Antonio Candreva shot from the edge of the area which flashed past the post from a tight angle.

Sow had another good chance to break the deadlock with the clock running down, after a cross from Webó came to him at the back post. Bringing the ball down in the box he could only blaze it over the bar, with the home crowd growing understandably more frustrated.

Eventually they were given reason to cheer, when, with just over ten minutes remaining, a harsh penalty was given against Lazio defender Ștefan Radu, who was adjudged to have handled in the area. Pierre Webó stepped up and slotted into the net, finally handing Fener a deserved lead.

Marchetti made a couple of impressive saves to prevent Fener doubling their advantage, and the goalkeeper was unlucky to concede a second goal in stoppage time. Diving low to save a drilled free-kick from distance, the impressive Dirk Kuyt was on hand to tap in the rebound, making Lazio's second leg task twice as difficult.

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