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03 Apr 2008 08:46
Arsenal and Liverpool fought out a pulsating 1-1 draw while Fenerbahce came from behind for a 2-1 home win over Chelsea in Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal, first-leg matches.
Liverpool soaked up intense second-half pressure from Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium to earn the away-goal edge for Tuesday’s return leg at Anfield in their all-English clash.
After a cautious approach, Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor headed Arsenal into a 23rd-minute lead but Dutchman Dirk Kuyt replied only three minutes later with an opportunist goal.
Dutch forward Robin van Persie twice came close to giving Arsenal the lead before he delivered a perfect cross for Adebayor to power past Pepe Reina from 6m.
But their rear guard was caught napping as Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard weaved his way past two defenders and squared the ball back for Kuyt to slide home from close range.
Arsenal dominated the second half and had a strong penalty claim waved away by Dutch referee Pieter Vink after his countryman, Kuyt, appeared to have brought down Aleksandr Hleb, who had beaten two markers to burst into the box.
Arsenal substitute Nicklas Bendtner then denied his team the lead when he got in the way of a Cesc Fabregas shot in front of an empty net and Liverpool held on in the closing stages.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger complained about the penalty decision and said his team had to “swallow it”.
“We were unlucky with the big decision of the referee with the penalty and it’s difficult to accept we didn’t win,” he told Sky Sports. “The ref was five yards away from Kuyt and it was a 100% penalty.”
His Liverpool counterpart, Rafa Benitez, was pleased with the outcome and his team’s hard-working performance.
“It was a really good performance, the team worked hard,” he said.
“The away goal is crucial in Europe.
Fenerbahce’s Brazilian forward, Deivid, scored at both ends in Istanbul, grabbing a late winner with a stunning 30m drive after English-born Turkey striker Colin Kazim-Richards had cancelled out Deivid’s 13th-minute own goal.
Chelsea controlled the first half and only a string of good saves by Volkan Demirel denied them a bigger lead after Deivid diverted Florent Malouda’s low cross past the helpless keeper.
Michael Essien shaved the crossbar with a long-range effort but Chelsea faded in the last 30 minutes as the hosts, playing in an adventurous 4-3-3 formation, piled on the pressure.
Substitute Kazim-Richards, who moved to Fenerbahce from English Championship (second division) side Sheffield United in 2007, equalised in the 65th minute when he beat the offside trap and rifled his shot past Carlo Cudicini.
Deivid then turned match-winner in the 81st minute when he picked up a pass deep in the Chelsea half and gave Cudicini no chance with a thunderbolt that flew into the top corner.
Fenerbahce coach Zico hailed Deivid for making amends after the own goal and praised his team for overcoming a “hasty and nervous start.”
“Today’s [Wednesday] own-goal could have happened to anyone and Deivid clearly decided he would go on to win the game for himself,” the former Brazil forward told Turkish television. “After we got the equaliser we started to trust in ourselves more.”
His opposite number, Avram Grant, was disappointed.
“This was a match in which we needed to score more goals, but this is football and if you sleep for one minute things are suddenly equal,” he said.—Reuters
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