Fenerbahçe secured a goalless away draw against Belarussian champions BATE Borisov after playing with 10 men for 86 minutes in tonight's Europa League last 32, first-leg match. With this score, the Turkish side obtains a significant advantage before the return match scheduled in Istanbul on Feb. 21.
Fenerbahçe's plans were scuppered at the very beginning of the game as the Portuguese international Raul Meireles was sent off after a dangerous tackle in the 4th minute on former Arsenal and Barcelona star Alexander Hleb. The Belarussian side came close to opening the score in the first half with a try from striker Vitali Rodionov in the 35th minute. But his shot went wide over the bar.
Fenerbahçe tried to contain their rival's pressure and create danger on counterattacks thanks to the speed of its attacking duo, Senegalese Moussa Saw and Cameroonian Pierre Webo. But the yellow canaries enjoyed few goal opportunities during the game.
BATE Borisov took control of the ball in the second half showing a more attacking display as the minutes passed. Fenerbahçe's goalkeeper Volkan Demirel made an important save in the 61st on a shot from Rodionov. Midfielder Alexandr Volodko had an important opportunity for a precious goal for BATE Borisov in the 88th minute, but failed to find the target.
The 0-0 draw after a tough match played on a pitch with bad conditions in very cold weather might satisfy the Canaries. The return match on Feb. 21 might also be difficult as Fenerbahçe supporters will not be allowed in the stadium due to a suspension from UEFA.