Fenerbahce took a huge stride towards the Europa League semi-finals with a deserved 2-0 victory over Lazio in their first leg match at the Sükrü Saraçoglu stadium in Istanbul.
Pierre Webo opened the scoring in the 78th minute after Ogenyi Onazi had earlier been sent off. The Cameroonian netted from the spot following Lazio captain Stefan Radu’s handball.
The home side, who enjoyed the majority of possession for the duration of the match, never looked in doubt of losing their one-goal advantage but grabbed a vital second on 90 minutes.
Dirk Kuyt benefited from Lazio keeper Federico Marchetti’s fumble and was able to turn the ball home from close range, securing the victory and quite possibly the tie.
With a poor record against Italian teams in European competition – winning just three of 13 games – Fenerbahce opted for a 4-5-1 formation which saw them overrun their opponents in midfield. They had the majority of the ball in the opening half, enjoying large spells of possession and creating the better of the very few opportunities.
Webo shot narrowly wide with just five minutes on the clock after being picked out by Raul Meireles’s pinpoint pass. The striker spun away from the covering Michael Ciani and controlled well on the edge of the area but, with the defender making good ground, Webo opted to shoot rather than continue towards goal, failing to test the keeper.
Lazio failed to settle down in the opening quarter of an hour but, on a rare attack, could have been awarded a penalty.
Hernanes’s excellent reverse ball caught Egeman Korkmaz wrong-footed as the defender turned and clashed with Ederson on the edge of the penalty area. The Brazilian forward went down in the box but the referee deemed there not to be enough contact to award the spot kick.
Just moments later, the hosts nearly went ahead as they hit the woodwork courtesy of a quite brilliant save from Marchetti.
Radu was closed down as he tried to clear his lines, with the ball catching the feet of the ineffective Kuyt and ricocheting towards the Lazio penalty area.
Moussa Sow was first to react and sent his scuffed first-time shot towards goal. It appeared to be heading for the bottom left-hand corner but Marchetti sprawled out, sending the effort onto the post and away to safety.
The second half started with the visiting side getting the game under way. They instantly surrendered possession and, with four minutes gone of the second period, effectively surrendered the match.
Onazi, on a yellow card after a clumsy opening 45 minutes, foolishly launched himself into a tackle – from behind – as he attempted to dispossess Cristian. Getting nowhere near the ball and sending the Fenerbahce man to the floor, he left the referee with no choice but to send him off.
To their credit, Lazio continued to search for the goal and attacked in number but struggled to find that killer pass in the final third as they were overrun in midfield.
Time and time again the hosts went close, with Meireles the man in the thick of it. He sent a curling effort crashing off the post from distance before stinging the palms of Marchetti and then forcing the keeper into an excellent save, palming the ball around the post.
It seemed only a matter of time before the Turkish side were to find the back of the net and that proved to be the case as Radu was penalised for handball after challenging substitute Caner Erkin in the box.
Webo stepped up and duly converted, sending the keeper the wrong way.
The Rome-based outfit looked deflated following the goal and went further behind in the last minute of normal time as Kuyt finished from close range.
Erkin’s free kick from distance appeared too hot for Marchetti to handle, as the keeper could only parry. The Dutchman was the first to react as he snuck in at the near post to slam the ball into the roof of the net and double his side’s lead.