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Thursday, 15 March 2012 23:28

Atletico end Besiktas’ European hopes

Besiktas 0-3 Atletico Madrid (agg. 1-6)

Atletico MadridBesiktasSpanish club Atletico Madrid followed up on their 3-1 first leg win with a straightforward 3-0 victory in Istanbul to cut short Besiktas’ European ambitions. Frankly, it was a rather tepid performance from Carlos Carvalhal’s men, but Atletico demonstrated throughout the course of both legs that they were the superior team.

Portuguese trio Simao, Manuel Fernandes and Hugo Almeida started the match for the hosts, while Portugal full-back Silvio is still out injured for Atletico. Initially it appeared as if Besiktas would make things interesting as they surged forward in search of an early goal. For all of their dominance however, they found the opposition defence to be up to the task and instead ended up being pegged back themselves in the 26th minute. ArdaTuran, formerly of arch rivals Galatasaray, found himself surrounded in the penalty area but managed to drop off a pass for Adrian, whose shot found its way underneath keeper CenkGonen.

The early goal meant that Besiktas needed to score three times to turn the tie in their favour, and in truth it never looked likely. The hosts worked hard in midfield but desperately needed a creative spark that never came. In the absence of Quaresma, Besiktas looked toothless and will need to add more innovative players to their squad in the off season if they want to improve upon this year’s performance.

Manuel Fernandes once again pulled the strings in central midfield and showed some exquisite touches, but the final ball wasn’t there and Besiktas were unable to create any good opportunities to score. Atletico, on the other hand, were quite unfortunate not to score more earlier as they looked to hit back on the counter at nearly every opportunity.

Falcao laps up mistake

On another night, their profligacy in front of goal might have cost them dearly, but it was not to be this night as former Porto striker Falcao doubled their advantage with six minutes left to play. Ibrahim Toraman’s mishit clearance was sent straight up in the air and should have been easy pickings for CenkGonen, but Falcao outmuscled the young keeper and headed the ball into the back of the net.

The ghastly error summed up Besiktas’ night and it got even worse in stoppage time when Eduardo Salvio scored Atletico’s third after being set up by Mario Suarez following a speedy counter.

All things considered, Besiktas did relatively well in European competition this season, reaching the round of 16 of the Europa League for only the second time ever. Still, club supporters will be hungry for more silverware in the light of last season’s spending spree, which brought in (among others) a host of high-profile players well known to the Portuguese football fraternity: Simao, Manuel Fernandes, Julio Alves, Bebe and Sidnei.

Besiktas will now turn their attention to the Turkish Cup and of course, securing a Europa League qualifying berth for next season.

by Nathan Motz


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