Chelsea's apparently serene progress to the Champions League semi-finals was shaken up last night by the "Coca-Cola Kid". Colin Kazim-Richards, who was once transferred as a result of a competition by the sponsor, last night wrote another chapter into his extraordinary journey from Leytonstone to the banks of the Bosphorus.
The former Bury, Brighton and Sheffield United striker was brought on 53 minutes into a quarter-final first-leg tie which Chelsea had utterly dominated. He conjured the 64th-minute equaliser which transformed the match. A previously outclassed Fenerbahce team scored again, through Deivid, 10 minutes from time, giving themselves hope of becoming Turkey's first European Cup semi-finalists.
Having been gifted a lead by Deivid's 12th-minute own goal, Chelsea had enough chances to win comfortably. While they will still expect to progress after Tuesday's second leg at Stamford Bridge, they will be angry at their failure to put this tie to bed.
"I don't know what to say," said a bemused and frustrated Avram Grant. "We played such good football we deserved to win three- or four-nil. One minute of sleeping and they are back in the game. Even then [Michael] Ballack had a great chance for 2-1, then they score from 25 metres.
"Normally it is not a bad result when you score away, 2-1 is not a bad result, but it is disappointing because of our performance. Our play was good, but football is a game of results."
Zico, Fenerbahce's coach, responded: "The score is how it ends. If you don't get the score you wish for it is because you don't take your chances."
The first of Chelsea's 15 attempts on goal came after 11 minutes when Volkan Demirel caught Joe Cole's chip. A minute later Florent Malouda broke into the box and pulled the ball back only for Deivid, the back-tracking Brazilian striker, to turn the cross inside his own near post.
The goal knocked Fenerbahce's confidence and soon quietened, relatively speaking, the crowd. That had been one of Chelsea's pre-match aims. With only the hardiest of their supporters braving the Sukru Saracoglu, Chelsea were almost as bereft of vocal support as England had been in the Euro 2004 qualifier here, when away fans were banned.
As a consequence the match began with every Chelsea touch being accompanied by ear-splitting whistling and every Fenerbahce move prompting high-decibel cheers. Chelsea's dominance lowered the volume and they should have silenced the crowd entirely. Michael Essien, playing at right-back, hit the bar after 17 minutes from nearly 30 yards and Didier Drogba threatened three times.
Midway through the half he out-jumped Onder Turaci to Joe Cole's cross but headed wide. He then took a pass from Ballack, turned his man and brought an excellent save from Demirel. The goalkeeper denied Drogba again shortly before half-time, sprinting from his goal to hack the ball clear from the striker's feet, 25 yards out. With Frank Lampard, after a bout of head-tennis in the home box, also going close Chelsea should have made the game safe. All Fenerbahce had to offer were a clutch of wide and not very handsome long shots.
It was a poor response from a club who are almost as ambitious as Chelsea, being bent on regional, if not global domination. Aziz Yilidrim, their chairman, said prior to this match: "Fenerbahce are going to be one of the greatest clubs ever. We will be like Chelsea, Milan or Real Madrid in 10 years. This is inevitable." Shave his head and it could have been Chelsea's chief executive, Peter Kenyon, doing the talking.
It might be imagined that the pre-requisite for such status would be a European Cup or two but, like Chelsea prior to the arrival of their current owner, Roman Abramovich, Fenerbahce are yet to even reach a Champions League semi-final. The expensive hiring of Roberto Carlos and Zico is aimed at ending this omission. The former, however, was not fit enough to make the bench last night and, like many a great player turned manager, Zico found it difficult to replicate from the dug-out the influence he once had on the pitch.
The interval did offer an opportunity for the Brazilian to revive his team.
"I told my players: 'be confident, trust in yourselves'," he said. Alex soon went close with a glancing header but Chelsea remained in control with Demirel again denying Drogba and Ricardo Carvalho shooting over.
Enter Kazim-Richards, London-born of an Antiguan father and Turkish-Cypriot mother. He is believed to want a return to England and quickly used this stage to showcase his quixotic talents. Mehmet Aurelio dropped a searching ball over the head of Carvalho and Kazim-Richards produced a superb finish.
Grant did not immediately blame Carvalho, noting: "We did not press the ball in midfield. When you are dominant you do not feel the danger but in football you must concentrate all the time."
Lampard, to his obvious displeasure, was withdrawn. The central midfield needed stiffening, Lampard had been sick all week and Ballack had played well. Yet it was Ballack who then wasted a clear chance to restore the lead and the substitute, John Obi Mikel, who should have been quicker to close down Deivid before the No 99 hit a stunning 30-yard winner that left the tie very much in the balance.
"The important thing is to be in the next round," said Grant. "We can win at home." Zico countered: "Chelsea have to come forward to beat us; this is an advantage for us."
Fenerbahce (4-3-2-1): Volkan Demirel, Onder Turaci , Lugano, Edu, Gökçek Vederson;Maldonado, Aurelio,Ugar Boral (Kazim-Richards, 54); Deivid, Alex,Kezman (Senturk, 72). Substitutes not used: Sedar Kulbilge (gk), Yasin Cakmak, Kemal Aslan, Bilgin, Selcuk Sahin.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cudicini; Essien, Ricardo Carvalho, Terry, A Cole; Ballack, Makelele, Lampard (Mikel, 76); J Cole (Anelka, 85), Drogba, Malouda. Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Ferreira, Kalou, Wright-Phillips, Alex.
Referee: C Bo Larsen (Denmark).
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