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UEFA Champions League
August 19, 2014
• Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadı, İstanbul
Referee: M. Mažić
• Attendance: 41531
I am Alex Moretto and I would like to thank you all for joining me this evening. Good bye!
FULL-TIME: BESIKTAS 0-0 ARSENAL. It has finished scoreless at the Vodafone Arena, but let that not be a reflection on the quality of the match. Plenty of excitement throughout as both teams had their chances to win. Aaron Ramsey picked up a red card with 10 minutes to play, but it was Arsenal who had the best chance to win it as Oxlade-Chamberlain hit the post with just a few minutes to play. Besiktas will be happy not to have conceded an away goal while Arsenal will still fancy their chances to go through. Everything still to play for in the return leg next week at the Emirates!
90' + 4'
Slaven Bilic, who has spent much of the 90 minutes yelling, has been sent to the stands as he pleads for a foul. The referee restarts play and blows the final whistle seconds later. It is all over in Istanbul!
90' + 3'
Tore sends a ball over the top for Demba Ba, but it runs out of play and that may just be the last chance for the hosts to snatch a winner.
90' + 2'
The fans up in arms as the referee stops play for Mathieu Flamini who goes down after taking a shot off the midsection. He was perhaps winded a bit, but hardly a popular decision by the referee to stop play as more precious seconds run off the clock.
90' + 1'
Into the first of four minutes of added time as Arsenal make their third and final substitution, bringing on Tomas Rosicky in place of Santi Cazorla as they look to drain the final few minutes off the clock.
Poor from Ramon Motta. He has all the time in the world, and options to his right, but a heavy touch around Debuchy sees the ball run out of play. Another wasted opportunity for the hosts who are running out of time here.
ARSENAL HIT THE POST! What an important goal that would have been! Oxlade-Chamberlain finds himself unmarked in the area. He cuts to the centre and curls a shot past Zengin and off the inside of the post before Gulum clears it off the line. What a chance for the Gunners to snatch a late winner!
Down to 10 men and Arsenal win a corner. They are in no rush to take it. Eventually it is sent into the box and Koscielny nearly meets it with his head. Arsenal have rallied together well since the sending off.
The stadium is as loud as it has been all night! Besiktas working the ball around well, patiently looking for a way through. A switch to Karim Frei looks promising, but an errant pass by the substitute runs behind for a goal kick.
The last 10 minutes have become that much more important for Besiktas. They have battled and played extremely well thus far, but still have nothing to show for it. There is no telling how important a winning goal could prove to be for them!
Yellow/Red Aaron Ramsey
ARSENAL DOWN TO 10-MEN! Aaron Ramsey loses the ball to Ozyakup and takes a slight pull at the midfielder's jersey. It is a near identical foul to the one he committed earlier and the last 10 minutes just got a whole lot more difficult for the Gunners!
Glorious chance for the Gunners as Monreal wins a free kick just on the edge of the area. Cazorla takes, and a tricky bounce makes for a difficult save for Zengin who scrambles to cover up.
Another yellow card, this time shown to Ozyakup for throwing the ball away, as Arsenal begin to amp up the pressure with a nice spell of possession in and around the Besiktas penalty area.
Yellow Card Oğuzhan Özyakup
Bodies flying everywhere! Ramsey takes an accidental knee to the groin from Ramon, seconds before Wilshere takes out Pektemek. The winger takes exception to the challenge as he gets up and in the face of the charismatic Arsenal midfielder.
Changes for both sides now as Alexis Sanchez comes off for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Olcay Sahan is replaced by former Chelsea youth player Gokhan Tore.
Another counter for Besiktas, but Sahan takes too long to pass off the ball. It forces the attack to slow down and eventually Koybasi sends a cross straight into the hands of Szczesny.
Great work by Pektemek as he tracks back well. It allows Besitkas to break and they win themselves a corner kick. Arsenal clear, but only as far as Koybasi who hits a half volley that dips wide at the near post.
Finally a nice move from Arsenal as it is worked to Debuchy along the right. He has options in the middle, but the final ball needed to be better as it turns Giroud around and eventually runs out of the area, relieving the pressure.
Ozyakup takes the free kick and sends a teasing ball into the area. Chambers gets a slight flick on it and it proves to be an important one as it sends the ball just past Sahan at the far post.
Yellow Card Monreal
It looks as though the playing surface is really hampering Arsenal's ability to show their quality. The pitch is really making a meal of some of these passes, which is less than ideal for a quick passing attack. Meanwhile, Nacho Monreal becomes the third Arsenal player booked as he concedes a foul about 40 yards out.
STAT ATTACK: Arsenal have never lost a match to Turkish opposition in 90 minutes (W4, D3), and have conceded just two goals.
Plenty of pressure applied by the hosts! They pass it around in the attacking third with real intent. Arsenal scamper to try and win it back, throwing their bodies in front of every shot. Frustration beginning to grow in the Arsenal camp.
Besiktas are enjoying a good spell of possession here, but it has not translated into a scoring chance. Koybasi wastes the opportunity as his feeble attempt from 30 yards out is saved easily by Szczesny.
Great defensive work by Alexis Sanchez who scampers back to take the ball away from Ozyakup, stopping what looked to be a promising attack. It is becoming a bit of a cagey affair here as the two sides know they are in for a real fight in the last 30 minutes.
Yellow Card Mathieu Flamini
It is raining yellow cards in Istanbul! Flamini is the third man booked in as many minutes as he gets his elbow up on Kavlak.
Yellow Card Aaron Ramsey
Another yellow now as Aaron Ramsey finds himself in the referee's book less than a minute later for a blatant tug of the shirt. Needless foul by the Welshman.
Yellow Card Ramon de Morais Motta
Arsenal win the ball back and break on a counter. Alexis looks to get in space, but he is taken down by Ramon Motta who earns the first yellow card of the match. Important tackle from the left-back, though.
Good build up play here from Besiktas as they keep possession well in the attacking half. They spread it around well, and Ozyakup works a give and go with Pektemek, but the return pass is intercepted by Koscielny.
Mikel Amatrian Arteta
Bit of a delay here as Mikel Arteta is down injured. The Spaniard makes his way off the pitch and he will not be able to continue. Mathieu Flamini is the one to replace him.
SAHAN NEARLY PICKS OUT THE FAR CORNER! Arsenal living on the edge here. The winger takes a pass with acres of space around him. He runs into the area and cuts inside around Koscielny, but curls his shot just inches wide of the far post! Besiktas have to start taking these chances.
Arsenal kick-off and the second half is underway. No changes for either side at the break as the managers opt to let this one play out... at least for the time being.
Quick chance for Aaron Ramsey as he gets the ball atop the area, but a heavy touch and firm challenge from Uysal sends the ball safely into the hands of the keeper.
The players are making their way back out onto the pitch as we get set for the restart. Can Arsenal find a way through? Will Demba Ba find the back of the net? These questions and more will be answered in the next 45 minutes!
STAT ATTACK: Arsenal faced Turkish opposition in the play-off round of last year’s Champions League as well, disposing of Fenerbahce 5-0 on aggregate, which included a 3-0 first leg victory in Turkey, thanks to goals from Keiran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.
HALF-TIME: BESIKTAS 0-0 ARSENAL. The hosts have come to play and will feel unlucky not to be leading at the break. Besiktas are throwing everything they have at Szczesny and it has resulted in a number of chances. Arsenal struggled for long portions of the half and have really failed to create many opportunities in attack. We will see what adjustments the managers make for the second half.
And that is all for the first half as the Serbian referee opts for no added time. Glorious chance wasted for Besiktas just minutes before the break.
INCHES AWAY FROM THE OPENING GOAL! Calum Chambers with a nearly disastrous slip that sends Demba Ba in one on one with Koscielny. He cuts inside on his right and tries to slot in at the near post, missing by the narrowest of margins!
Besiktas certainly are not afraid to put the ball on net, testing Szczesny every chance they get. Koybasi is the latest to have a go from about 25 yards out. His shot takes a bit of a tricky bounce but it does not manage to trouble the Polish keeper.
Finally a shot on goal for the Gunners! Wilshere shows some good skill on the ball to find the smallest space at the top of the box for a shot. It is not a bad effort, but it never did look to threaten Zengin who puts on a bit of a show for the cameras with a seemingly unnecessary diving stop.
Arsenal continue to work everything through Sanchez on the right hand side, despite not being able to find a way through there just yet. Again it comes out for Sanchez who sends a cross in for Giroud, but it is too close to Zengin who collects with ease.
Sanchez is being smothered every time he finds himself in possession. Gulum is staying awfully close and doing a god job marking the Chilean, but he is never short in support. Arsenal struggling to put any sort of pressure on the Besiktas defence at the moment.
STAT ATTACK: Besiktas have won all five of their Champions League qualifiers in Istanbul, by a combined score of 10-1.
Kavlak has a go for Besiktas as he takes a pass from Pektemek at the top of the box. He gets plenty of sting in the shot but it is straight at Szczesny who makes a comfortable stop. Nonetheless, it has got the fans singing again.
Arsenal break on a counter with three against three, but Sanchez can not slide his cross through the legs of Gulum who makes a nice defensive play to sniff out the attack. Besiktas go back the other way and Chambers is forced to foul Ba as the hosts win a free kick in the attacking half.
Ozyakup has been a real bright spot for Besiktas. His work rate has been superb throughout the first half and his passing has been neat and tidy. The hosts are enjoying their own spell in possession and Pektemek sends a good ball in that was begging for a touch. Instead, it runs to Szczesny and nothing comes of it.
Arsenal are still in search of their first shot on target. Besiktas are doing a wonderful job of pressuring the ball carrier and closing gaps in midfield. The Gunners have yet to adapt as they are forced to retreat time and time again.
Besiktas win their first corner of the match now as Pektemek pings his cross off Monreal and out of play. It is played short, and Besiktas scrape and claw to keep possession. Arsenal struggle to win it back before Wilshere finally deals with the danger.
Nearly a breakthrough for Arsenal as Gulum just does enough to dispossess Giroud who nearly manages to poke the ball through for Wilshere who would have been in alone on goal. They manage to stay in possession and Sanchez wins another corner, but nothing comes of it.
After a lively opening 15 minutes, the pace has reached a more realistic speed as the two teams settle into the match. Much of the play is being contained in midfield at the moment, with both teams racking up the foul count.
STAT ATTACK: Demba Ba scored two goals in his last match against Arsenal, back in December of 2012 with Newcastle, in a 7-3 defeat for his side.
Sanchez has taking the match over in the last few minutes! He shows some lovely pace and footwork to create space along the right flank where he wins a corner. He delivers the cross in, and it is met by Giroud, who lofts it over the bar.
Finally the visitors are starting to get themselves into the match. Sanchez wins the ball back deep in the Besiktas end and picks out Cazorla. The Spaniard circles two defenders to get into a shooting position, but sends his low, driven shot just wide at the far post.
Arsenal respond with their first chance of the night. Alexis Sanchez streaks down the right and sends a perfect pass in for Olivier Giroud. The striker shields off Pedro Franco, turns, but mishits his shot as it takes a slight deflection and is collected easily by Zengin.
NEARLY THE OPENER FOR DEMBA BA! Oguzhan Ozyakup makes space for himself along the right and sends a wonderful cross in for Demba Ba who hits it first time on the volley. The contact is good, and it looked to be headed in at the far post if not for a fine diving stop from Szczesny who looks up for the proceedings in the opening 10 minutes.
First test for Chambers who does well to clear a Ramon Motta cross. Besiktas wasting no time getting forward when they get in possession, while Arsenal are looking to slow the tempo just a bit as they try and settle into the match.
Nice push from Besiktas as they search for the opening goal. Perhaps inspired by the support of their fans, they are getting forward with real intent early on. Some nice build-up play comes to nothing, however, as Arsenal have six men inside their own penalty area to sniff out the danger.
Lively start from the hosts who look ready to put up a fight. Arsenal meanwhile seem a bit shaken as they struggle to string more than a few passes together. Besiktas doing a wonderful job of pressing the ball early on.
WHAT A START! Besiktas kick-off and Demba Ba immediately has a go for goal from the half-way line, forcing an acrobatic save from a surprised Szczesny who just manages to keep it out with his fingertips. No time to get settled in, we are well underway in Turkey.
Despite a few sections of the stadium remaining vacant, the atmosphere inside the Vodafone Arena is brilliant! The players take their spot on the pitch and we are just moments from kick-off!
STAT ATTACK: This is the first ever meeting between Arsenal and Besiktas.
Atiba Hutchinson, who started both legs against Feyenoord, is out injured, while Koybasi makes his first appearance in the competition. Demba Ba starts as the lone striker up top as coach Slaven Bilic opts to pack the midfield and make like difficult on Arsenl's free flowing passing game.
BESIKTAS SUBS: Gonen, Kurtulus, Sivok, Frei, Tosun, Boral, Tore.
BESIKTAS XI (4-5-1): Zengin; Koybasi, Franco, Gulum, Ramon; Pektemek, Ozyakup, Uysal, Kavlac, Sahan; Ba.
Wenger has employed two changes to his team that beat Crystal Palace 2-1 on Saturday. Yaya Sanogo is replaced by Olivier Giroud up top while Nacho Monreal steps in at left-back in place of Kieran Gibbs. Callum Chambers faces th biggest test of his young career as he makes his Champions League debut.
ARSENAL SUBS: Bellerin, Campbell, Flamini, Martinez, Miquel, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky.
ARSENAL XI (4-3-3): Szczesny; Debuchy, Chambers, Koscielny, Monreal; Wilshere, Arteta, Ramsey; Sanchez, Cazorla, Giroud.
The teams have been announced, so let us have ourselves a look at the starting line-ups:
Slaven Bilic's men coasted past Feyenoord in the third round of qualifying, propelled by a Demba Ba hat-trick in his debut. The Dutch side were weakened by a multitude of sales in the summer transfer window, but the tie should prove to be a good tune up for Besiktas who had the opportunity to rid themselves of any Champions League jitters they may have been experiencing after a four year absence from the competition.
Arsenal's quest for a 17th consecutive appearance in the Champions League group stage faces its biggest test this evening as they travel to Istanbul. The Gunners have an impeccable record in this stage of the competition, having won every one of their qualifiers, but nothing will come easy against a tough Besiktas squad.
Good evening football fans and welcome to Istanbul! Arsenal and Besiktas clash in the first leg of their play-off this evening with an all-important spot in the Champions League group stage on the line. The atmosphere inside th Vodafone Arena is electric, and promises to make life awfully difficult on the visitors. I am Alex Moretto and I will be your in-game host, guiding you through the match LIVE as it happens!
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