Fenerbahce brought a clear 1-0 win from the Czech Republic tonight, by defeating Viktoria Plzen in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 game. The late goal of the Cameroonese striker Webo in the last minutes of the match gave the Turkish side a huge advantage as they dominated their rivals for most of the game.
Deprived of its tandem midfielders Emre Belozoglu and Raul Meireles, Fenerbahce started the first half with a cautious display in the beginning against a team who was seeking to pursue its seven-match winning run. Belozoglu was ineligible for play as he previously competed with Atletico Madrid in the Europa League this season. Meireles, on the other hand, was suspended for three games. The Turkish side took possession of the ball and tried to maneuver it to the African striker duo Moussa Saw and Webo.
The game’s first goal attempt came in the 34th minute from Brazilian midfielder Christian Baroni, who challenged Victoria Plzen’s goalkeeper Matus Kozacik with a shot just outside the penalty area.
The Czechs had their own opportunity two minutes later when Frantisek Rajtoral stole the ball from Selcuk Sahin and fired a powerful shot that hit the crossbar. The Fenerbahce defense only managed laboriously to clear the ball from outside the area.
The Turkish side also missed a golden opportunity in the 42nd minute. Dutch star and former Liverpool player Dirk Kuyt found the ball just in the middle of the field after Sow’s perfect pass, but then sent the ball wide.
Fenerbahce increased its possession of the ball during the second half. In the 58th minute Sow sent a missile from outside the playing field to the right corner of Kozacik’s goal box, but the goalkeeper managed to deflect the ball into corner.
The attacks of the Turkish side multiplied from that minute on. Baroni, Ziegler and Kuyt each missed their respective opportunities and it was Webo in the 81st minute who sent Fenerbahce fans cheering by scoring the game’s only goal. Gokhan Gonul cut the ball to Plzen’s side of the field to find Saw. Saw's header was deflected by Kozacek, but the ball fell in front of Webo who only had to push it into the empty goal.
Fenerbahce didn’t allow their rival much room to score in the last 10 minutes of the game and cruised to a crucial victory.
Fenerbahçe will host Plzen on March 14 in Istanbul to seal their qualification for the quarterfinals of the Europa League.