The situation in Group F was complicated: If Bayer 04 won in Istanbul and Lyon failed to beat Barcelona at home than the Toppmöller team would already be through to the next round. A point at Fenerbahce would be enough if the French side were to lose against Barca. A win for Lyon would take it to the final matchday. It was possible that a team with twelve points might not qualify. There were so many potential outcomes. One thing was definite: The Werkself had to manage without suspended defenders Lucio and Diego Placente while captain Jens Nowotny was able to play in spite of problems with his knee. Alongside him in a back three were Zoltan Sebescen and Boris Zivkovic.
The visitors dominated proceedings at the Sükrü Saracoglu stadium from the start. And after an early wonder goal scored by Bernd Schneider (23'), followed by a second strike eleven minutes later from Ulf Kirsten with an assist from Yildiray Bastürk, it looked like it would be a relaxed evening for Bayer 04. The goal to make it 2-1 from a header by Oktay (40') raised the passion for the first time amongst the 13,000 spectators at a scarcely populated arena. However, Bayer 04 remained on top in the second half. But the Werkself did miss some excellent opportunities to score. That sloppiness was almost punished in the end when Bayraktar hit the post minutes before the final whistle (84').
Of course, the goal scored by Bernd Schneider to put the Werkself 1-0 up. Zé Roberto cut the ball back from the left flank to the right corner of the penalty area, Schnix did not hesitate and he curled the ball into the top left corner leaving the Fenerbahce keeper Rüstü with no chance of making a save. The strike was rightly voted Goal of the Month in October.
Bernd Schneider provided the moment of magic but the most impressive performance was by Jens Nowotny. The skipper was anything but fully fit going into the game but he produced a faultless display, secured the defence and, in the end, could hardly stay on his feet because he received a kick to his thigh. "He was our rock at the back, a real captain who best epitomised our team spirit," said general manager Reiner Calmund at the post-match banquet.
The two goalkeepers summed it up: "We had enough chances for five games in the second half," recapped Bayer 04 keeper Jörg Butt, "it would have been annoying if we’d have let in the equaliser." The sheer superiority of the visitors and the almost effortless creation of goalscoring opportunities attracted gallows humour from the Fenerbahce shot-stopper Rüstü: "Leave it to me folks! I'll play on my own against Leverkusen." After the final whistle, Rüstü recounted that he had said that to the players in front of him when they wanted to set up a wall at a free kick.
There was no dispute amongst the media outlets that the victory for the Werkself was highly deserved. "For long phases in the game, the visitors gave the Turkish champions a lesson in modern attacking football." wrote the Kölnische Rundschau. The Kicker commented on the second half as follows: "Ballack on the left, Bastürk and Schneider on the right pressed forward with urgency and embarrassed the uncertain Turkish defence again and again but the Toppmöller team failed to seal the victory early on despite having numerous promising attacks as they lacked the necessary concentration."
Fenerbahce: Rüstü – Dogan, Meric, Deniz, Johnson – Günes, Lazetic (Bayraktar 65’), Akdeniz (Rapaic 77’), Yusuf (Ogün 52’) – Oktay, Revivo
Bayer 04: Butt – Sebescen, Nowotny, Zivkovic – Ramelow, Schneider, Bastürk (Vranjes 90’), Ballack, Ze Roberto – Kirsten (Brdaric 68’), Neuville (Ojigwe 82’)
Goals: 0-1 Schneider (23’), 0-2 Kirsten (34’), 1-2 Oktay (40’)
Booked: Günes, Rapaic, Revivo, Yusuf - Schneider
Chance ratio: 4:11
Shots at goal: 10:20; on target: 7:10
Referee: Terje Hauge (Norway)
Guido Misere was not only thrilled by the atmosphere at the stadium but also in the city as well. "I was there as the fan spokesperson and I thought Istanbul was really cool. We went all over the town and had a very warm welcome in the markets. There was one special experience the night before the game when we were with a lot of Bayer 04 fans at the Gelata Tower with a magnificent view of the Bosphorus. In the game you could immediately sense how enthusiastic the Fenerbahce fans were in supporting their team. Although the stadium was a long way from being sold out, the Turkish supporters were incredibly loud. But we too, the 200 or so Bayer fans, also celebrated progress the next round in a decent way."
Barcelona and Bayer 04 headed the group with 12 points each and were both already qualified for the next round. Matchday six would just decide who won the group. Bayer 04 were at home to Lyon on 31 October and Barca entertained Fenerbahce.
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