OKAN UDO – Emirates match becomes vital as Eagles let Gunners off hook

Emirates match becomes vital as Eagles let Gunners off hookYou canandrsquot win in football if you donandrsquot outscore your opponent. In other words, goals matter more than anything else in the beautiful game.

This was exactly what happened in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff round between BeIiktaI and Arsenal at Istanbulandrsquos Ataturk Olympic Stadium on Tuesday night, which ended as it started: 0-0.After crushing Dutch powerhouse Feyenoord with enthralling arrogance in the previous round and sending them packing 5-2 on aggregate, the BeIiktaI fans expected their team to treat the English Gunners in a like manner But the Black Eagles, as BeIiktaI is also called, had to settle for a 0-0 draw, even though they played good and sometimes great football against the Gunners — just because they could not put the ball into the back of the net.

BeIiktaIandrsquos new signing Demba Ba hit the bar from an early free kick and later missed three clear chances. Midfielder Olcay Iahan missed from close range in the second half after dribbling past a host of Arsenal defenders and rounding off the last one.

Other BeIiktaI players also missed second half chances. The Gunners finished the match with 10 men after midfielder Aaron Ramsey was sent off with 10 minutes left for a second bookable offense for pulling the shirt of former Arsenal man Oguzhan zyakup.

The BeIiktaI players, coach, technical staff, administrators and fans are now scratching their heads in disbelief because the Black Eagles let the English Gunners off the hook and missed out on a great aantage for the second leg at the Emirates Stadium in London next Wednesday.Bilic rues missed chancesBeIiktaIandrsquos Croatian coach Slaven Bilic rued his teamandrsquos missed chances, but was nonetheless happy with his playersandrsquo performance and overtly optimistic about the do-or-die second leg in London.

andldquoWe are going to go to London [next week] not just for shopping in Harrods but we are going to go to fulfill — some would say our dream — I would say our plan,andrdquo he said in his post-match news conference.Though Ramsey will be suspended next week, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will almost certainly bring in German 2014 World Cup-winning trio Mesut zil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski — though they are not match fit.

Therefore Ramseyandrsquos absence will not be much of a problem for the star-studded Gunners, who have plenty of other ammo in their arsenal.Nevertheless, Bilic seemed happy with Ramseyandrsquos suspension and could not conceal his relief.

andldquoThey will be without Ramsey, who for me is the top man in the team We are still alive and we go to the Emirates with even more confidence,andrdquo he stated. Bilic also apologized to the referee for the altercation that resulted in his being given his marching orders towards the end of the match.

Arsenalandrsquos Wenger has now learned that BeIiktaI is no pushover andldquoMaybe a draw is a fair result, as both teams had chances to win the game. We know that BeIiktaI is a good team, we know the game will be tight, but the task is clear [in the second leg in London],andrdquo he further said.

The Gunners, against the run of play, almost got a late winner on Tuesday when England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlainandrsquos shot was turned onto the post by BeIiktaI keeper Tolga Zengin. The team now has 90 minutes down and 90 more to go.

Turkish hearts will be beating for BeIiktaI next week because they indeed face a tall order at the Emirates.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman