<
>
2015/16 UEFA Europa League, Third Round
  • Mehmet Topal (82')
1st Leg
1st Leg

Mehmet Topal's late goal gives Fenerbahce win over Braga

Mehmet Topal's strike eight minutes from time gave Fenerbahce a slender first-leg lead in their Europa League last-16 tie with Braga.

The midfielder, who only scored his first goal of the season in the previous round against Lokomotiv Moscow two weeks earlier, slotted home late on to give the Turkish side a 1-0 victory on home soil.

Topal's teammate Robin van Persie had seen a goal chalked off for offside during a second half that Fener controlled after Braga spent much of the first 45 minutes on top.

The Portuguese outfit were forced into a defensive reshuffle early on when Ricardo Ferreira came off with an injury, yet they still were the most threatening side before the break.

Ahmed Hassan saw an attempt saved by Volkan Demirel and Andre Pinto almost reached an enticing cross from Wilson Eduardo as the visitors pushed for an away goal.

There were 38 minutes on the clock before Fener had even registered their first attempt on goal as Van Persie got a slight touch on a Volkan Sen cross that goalkeeper Matheus had to turn away with his left hand.

Hassan reached a similar delivery from Nikola Vukcevic at the other end and got a better connection on it only to prod the ball wide ahead of the half-time whistle.

It looked like being another frustrating night for Van Persie in a Fener shirt as he saw a goal ruled out for offside nine minutes after the break.

The former Manchester United striker, 32, has experienced a difficult transition in Turkey, scoring just 10 times all year, and he felt aggrieved to be denied an 11th because of an offside flag when Baiano seemed to play him onside as he found the net.

Van Persie was booked for diving moments later to compound his misery but the hosts, who threw on Nani and ex-Liverpool midfielder Raul Meireles, eventually found a way through.

A loose pass from Luiz Carlos came to Topal near the halfway line and he strode forward, with nobody in a Braga shirt willing to close him down, before stroking a left-footed attempt into the corner of the net to consign the visitors to just their second loss of the season in this competition.